Words: Craig Hartranft
Italy's Hollow Haze returns with their sixth album, Memories of an Ancient Time, and the revolving door of vocalists continues. This time, after one album, Fabio Lione gets the boot. A collosal mistake, I might add. If you're counting, that's four different vocalists over five albums. What to do? Here's a brilliant idea. Let's get five different singers for this new album: Mats Leven (Yngwie Malmsteen, Therion, Candlemass), Rick Altzi (Masterplan, At Vance), Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Epica, et al), Ivan Giannini (Derdian) and Claudia Layline (Serenade). Next year the band can kick out of the band more singers than the sum total of all past singers.
The potential dilemma with multiple singers is that it can bring an uneveness to the totality of the album. (It doesn't help that no information is given about which singer is performing on which song. It might be mostly Leven.) Then there's the choice of singers. I'm not a huge fan of either Leven or Altzi. Even with some melody, both can have a raw to screamo presentation in their voice that's not terribly appealing. I was totally put off by the vocals at the start with Rain of Fire Lights and Created To Live. An Ancient Story or Night Is Calling were better. The male singers seemed to be better in songs where they dailed back on the raw screamo thing, like in the larger part of The Eyes of the Sphinx and Gate to the Eternity, both a rather epic numbers.
And turning to the music, Hollow Haze sticks to their progressive power metal path, throwing in some obvious symphonic nuances. Despite the vocal challenges, this is where Hollow Haze continues to improve. Their music canvas has always been dense, their approach rather predictable, but they've fully embraced the musical drama of Italian cinematic metal. Maybe not to the scale of Rhapsody of Fire, but their songs are large and engrossing. To the aforementioned very fine songs, you can add Lance of Destiny to your interest. It has this Middle Eastern spin at the front end, yet quickly develops into strong symphonic power metal number, wrapping up with a fiery guitar solo. (And the guitar lines are one of the strongest elements of this work.) So where does Hollow Haze go from here? I'm not sure. The vocalist drama is getting old, and fast. Otherwise, Hollow Haze basically stays the course offering bombastic progressive power metal.
With Memories of an Ancient Time, Hollow Haze basically stays the course, offering more bombastic progressive power metal, yet with multiple vocalists rather than one.
This experience deserves mention for one very good reason: Finland's One Desire is one of the best classic AOR melodic hard rock bands in the genre and, perhaps, the world, right now So, I also apologize, in ... [ Read More ]