Hollow - Home Is Not Where the Heart IsA funny thing happened to metalcore in the last six years or so. After the Killswitch Engages and As I Lay Dyings of the world spent years churning out Gothenburg riffs and tough-guy breakdowns like cheap beers at a frat party, metalcore bands finally listened to Periphery and started latching on to this new thing called “djent.” Groups like I, The Breather and Beyond the Shore realized it was much easier to stack chug upon chug as opposed to scraping from the bottom of the harmonic minor barrel, and thus a new generation of metalcore bands was born who eyed Periphery like they were the new Metallica. In some cases, it was good (This Or the Apocalypse), in other cases it was lackluster (pretty much all the rest). With few exceptions, I myself haven’t heard a new metalcore band influenced by At the Gates since before I started growing chest hair, and thus I think it’s safe to say metalcore today just isn’t what it used to be.

St. Louis quartet Hollow are the perfect example of this new school of metalcore. Debut Home Is Not Where the Heart Is doesn’t give one palm-muted fuck about the melodeath playbook. Instead, this album chugs. It chugs like it’s 1995 and Destroy.Erase.Improve just came out last week. It chugs like the songwriting process involved writing “chug” on two mirrors and then turning them to face each other. It chugs like it’s closing time at the local dive bar and it needs to finish its last Miller High Life before getting thrown out on the streets.

I would love to report that Hollow worked in some originality amidst all the chugging, but that’s largely not the case. Vocals consist primarily of mid-range screams that sound passionate but familiar, spouting lyrics about a post-apocalyptic wasteland as if that trope hadn’t already been beaten to death by pop culture in the last decade. In what’s perhaps record time for the genre, it takes only 36 seconds before opener “Coward King” delivers the album’s first clean chorus, painfully reminiscent of early Atreyu. For those actually into that sort of thing, fret not, because Home features plenty more refrains whose vocal lines would have sounded old halfway through the Bush administration. Adding insult to injury, tracks like “Dis/connect” and “The Wicked” attempt to embellish their proceedings with shrill, wonky synthesizers that sound just as unwelcome as when The Browning used them to create the horror known as EDM-infused deathcore.

Hollow 2017

In Hollow’s defense, not everything is bad. Early highlight “Anomaly” rides on a set of rapid guitar melodies and a lock-tight groove that easily lends itself to some subconscious head bobbing. Penultimate track “Alpha/Omega” stands out for its surprisingly catchy guitar line and particularly pissed-off vocals, with screamer Josh Miller roaring through lines like “I am the apex predator!” as if he’s a hungry Tyrannosaurus with a nest of hatchlings to feed. Home’s running time is also a trim 35 minutes, and actually, features a decent amount of variety when the chugs subside. “No Offense” opens with a genuine mathcore riff, aforementioned “Alpha” and closer “(Null)” feature some interesting Fiction-era Dark Tranquillity keyboards, and late-album epic “Tonguespeak” mellows things out with soft clean picking and gentle singing that later explode into huge chords and squealing leads.

Still, the facts remain: the chugging is monotonous, the choruses go from tolerable to outright annoying on repeat listens, and tracks like “The American Dream” are largely devoid of interesting ideas. Unsurprisingly, the production is loud, with boomy guitars that smash one’s face like a sledgehammer with “DR4” written on the side. While I applaud Hollow for their tight performances and youthful vigor, the band need to spend more time writing actual riffs rather than chugging like they’re trying to drink the last of the milk before their little sisters wake up and demand some for their Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Home may not be where the heart is, but it isn’t here either.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Website: facebook.com/hollowbandstl
Releases Worldwide: June 9th, 2017

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  • welyyt

    After listening to ten+ well-regarded metalcore/deathcore albums in the last month, I still have no idea why those subgenres so popular; those groups who go in a proggy direction have some great tunes, but the -core stuff is just not my cup of tea, I guess.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      It is easy to listen to given its aesthetic. You get all the “yea I listen to extreme music” bragging rights and none of the actual extremity. Some bands pull it off really well (take Zao and Norma Jean as recent examples) but most just pair gimmicks and breakdowns with pop structures resulting in successful careers that talented underground acts of death/black/etc styles could only dream of.

      • Drew Music

        Why does no one ever speak of Zao? The only thing I can think of is that we are collectively afraid of the further over-saturation of the already flooded -core world if too many people were aware of them, like if we speak not of the Zao quandary maybe we won’t get bombarded with a million more misguided imitators?

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          Because they aren’t addictive enough for current core listeners, probably. I could listen to odd, uniquely constructed riffs and interesting song structure or I could listen to the auditory equivalent of a bearded lullaby. One takes time to appreciate, the other makes sense even if you haven’t heard it before, for better or for worse. Botch and Converge aren’t the leaders of core anymore. Instead, we are stuck with the aforementioned Periphery clones and anything spawned of BMTH and Architects’ reign during 2010-2016. I’d kill for a core scene that primarily took inspiration from Zao’s third and fourth records but there is no way in hell that’ll happen.

          • GardensTale

            Question is, who would you kill?

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            Probably whoever owns Metal Wani

          • Drew Music

            Man, your points are pretty much always spot on and painful, and this is no exception. How did a world that got a Converge move on to make a Periphery? I was fortunate to discover them via Clear, i.e. an album claiming to be an experimental project of the band and which wasn’t supposed to necessarily be representative of their own sound. I didn’t love it, but I had high hopes for the output of a band pulling such moves. Mistake. I still respect that album, but I do not get the hype blindly piled onto that particular band.

        • herrschobel

          ahhhh…good you brought ZAO back into my deluded memory. Totally forgot about them. Just great. Then again they have almost nothing in common with most of the cheap carbon copies … mainly because they don’t suck at all !

          • Drew Music

            Which is why we must cease speaking of them, some new idiot is going to ‘discover’ them and try to change the world, and it’s gonna suck. Let the pleb’s play with their Atreyus and their BMTH’s, we’ll just keep this one safely tucked away from their grubby fingers.

          • herrschobel

            i have to say that there are a handful of Bands that are supposedly labeled ‘metal core’ that i listen to very frequently … Norma Jean / Every Time i Die / Botch or Poison the Well…all very good Bands IMO .. .live and on record

          • Drew Music

            I can’t call any of those bands bad, they just linger within soundscapes I don’t find myself revisiting particularly often, though most of them I know would be a blast to witness live. There are plenty of bands like that, I don’t think anyone should ever pass up seeing any band perform unless they know for sure that they completely dislike everything about said hypothetical band. My strongest argument to that end is, hands down, Gojira. I’ve given all of their albums multiple spins, I’ve tried and tried and fucking tried to like them but to this day they just do nothing for me. That said, by fuck can those lads do their thang onstage, and I fully intend to see them as many more times as I am able to because of the gloriousness of their thang doing. The world of music needs more of those guys… what were they called – oh yeah! Musicians! We needs ‘m, and how.

          • herrschobel

            haha…i have the same thing with Gojira and they have completely convinced me live the one time i saw them…having a long and twisted history with all things hardcore i have a sweet spot for Bands that manage to bring that specific energy and attitude to a different musical plateau…see Zao, see Converge, Botch, ETID, Norma Jean, Trap Them and so forth … those bands seem to be consistent, sincere and have evolved over time, which is something i respect quite a bit…the ethos to bring it on and advance while doing so …

          • Drew Music

            100% with you, sir, I always look/hope for the same thing in the bands I dig, more of those just happen to be Black-ish of some sort than not in my case when it comes to my day to day listening. I can’t fathom how unhappy life would have to be for one to strictly watch Black Metal live…

          • herrschobel

            ..and i am especially happy that certain aesthetics from Black and Death metal have leaked into certain styles of hardcore or post-hardcore (whatever?!)…makes it meaner, darker and altogether a lot more pretty !

        • ssorg

          If you really want incredible, completely overlooked early metalcore, check out Strongarm’s The Advent of a Miracle. I can’t recommend it strongly enough, it’s really good.

    • Jazzcastle

      I used to listen to a lot of metalcore back in high school, but I quickly grew out of it. Looking back, I also have a hard time seeing how it became so popular. After hearing Black Breath’s the Entombed-worshipping hardcore, I’m convinced that’s how metalcore should have always sounded.

      • Daniel Ritson

        Yes, yes, yes. Slaves Beyond Death should have been one of the most discussed records of the last five or so years…and it’s not. Absolutely criminal.

  • eibon666

    It’s the pop style clean singing that ruins it – bigtime. It sounds like they’re twelve.

  • GardensTale

    This one gets a great big “Eh.” from me.

  • Ivan E. Rection

    Main Ingredient: suck.

  • Drew Music

    Nope. Just… Nope.
    I think now that Ulsect is a thing, anything-core may finally be obsolete. That debut has plenty of chugs and breakdown moments, but it never smacks of youthful naivety or cheap trend worship. Overall a more mature and sonically different album than this, to the point of possible irrelevance, but it’s been hitting that chug spot pretty well for me lately and I feel like there needs to be some kind of silver lining here.

  • Dead1

    Very amusing review. Crap music always inspired interesting and hilarious word smithing!

  • Brent Johnson

    I actually enjoy KSE and have listened to my share of Meshuggah and After the Burial so I was interested. If this song is representative of the whole then 2 is the perfect score. I will say, the almost emo vocals kill any buzz there might be.

  • ActualBastard

    This Album is Not Where the Good Songs Are.

  • sir_c

    Yeah let’s record some overmatured chugs, whine a chorus over some dull breaks and then brickwall the shit out of it.
    Hollow… it is indeed.

  • GrimStilt

    I see a discussion about ‘heavy’ stuff down in the comments here and wanted to get some inputs on what is considered the heaviest of heavy music.(Now I don’t mean who can tune it down the most. Instead, music that creates a suffocating atmosphere like Ulcerate, Gnaw your tongues..) May be this might become a spam bait(or not) but I’m genuinely looking for some hard-to-breathe-heavy stuff.

    • Drew Music

      Ulsect, Dodecahedron, Eryn Non Dae, Départe, Zhrine, Hope Drone (read more melodic but still quite dense,) and Gorguts are my go-to purveyors of impermeable sonic force.

      • GrimStilt

        Recently saw gorguts live and got colored sands record yesterday! Will look into the ones you’ve mentioned.
        Okazaki Fragments and frontierer can join the list I believe.

        • Drew Music

          Cool, I’d never heard of either of the two you just listed, myself, so erbody wins.

          • Nag Dammit

            Get you some (in ascending accessibility order) Pyrrhon, Artificial Brain, Death Fortress and Beyond Creation. Then for some just dense, heavy shit try Unfathomable Ruination and Origin. You should also try Nespithe by Demilich if you haven’t already.

          • Drew Music

            Well, Death Fortress was the only one there that I’m unfamiliar with, but I’ll certainly check them out now.

          • Nag Dammit

            Cool. Well now I know what I’m dealing with. Ingurgitating Oblivion are another one that might not be on everyone’s radar. Bit like Death Fortress but more modern production and belched / croaked vox.

          • Drew Music

            Bingo, never heard of ‘m but will surely check them out, pleasantly stuck in Hope Drone traffic at the moment though and unable to merge into another musical lane for at least the next three tracks.

          • Nag Dammit

            Well, if you like HD, then IO will be up your street. Expect more psych / jazz freak outs and you’ll have a good idea of what’s in store.

        • herrschobel

          why did you mention colored sands ??? i am listening to this brilliant piece right now !

          • GrimStilt

            Yet to spin it. Will do today! Already heard so much praise about the record.

          • herrschobel

            you are in for a treat…i always listen to it before i go to the beach to bury some happy people

    • herrschobel

      Buried at sea ( esp. the ‘Migration’ Album), Primitive man, Dodecahedron for sure, Dragged into Sunlight….

      • GrimStilt

        I am already a fan of Dodecahedron thanks to AMG..shall try your suggestions

        • herrschobel

          buried at sea and primitive man are very low end primitive bands…but i need that sometimes :-)

  • Bryan Stroup

    Sigh, for a brief moment I thought “Hollow” (you know, the good one that released two killer albums in the late 90s) released something new.