Things You Might Have Missed 2010: Hollow – Modern Cathedral/Architect of Mind (Reissue)

Talk about buried and nearly forgotten classics! In their all too brief existence, Hollow walked the line between traditional and progressive metal and had a really compelling sound that fell somewhere between Mindcrime-era Queensryche, Crimson Glory and latter day Agent Steel. However, it always seemed they were completely overlooked and to this day I have yet to meet another metal fan who had even heard of them. Needless to say, I was mighty shocked but pleased to hear that Metal Mind Productions had remastered both albums and released them on one CD in time for the holidays.

Hollow’s 1998 debut Modern Cathedral showcased an already mature sounding unit capable of writing powerful and memorable metal tunes with plenty of crunch and loads of hooks and melody. Also working in their favor were the outstanding vocals of Andeas Stolz, whose powerful and expressive voice really made the whole sound take flight. While Modern Cathedral had a lot of excellent songs (“Crusader,” “Can You Hear Me” and “Wounds”), Hollow didn’t reach their full potential until 99’s epic concept album Architect of Mind. This thing utterly blew me away and continues to be one of my favorite metal platters of all time. Mixing very very heavy, crunching guitars with soaring vocals and brilliant songwriting, every single track smokes and demands repeated spins. From the dichotomy between the crunching riffs and mournful vocals in “Transcending Sorrow” to the memorable and hooky “Secluded Dreams” and the grim sadness of “Alone in Darkness,” this album kicks more ass than Chuck Norris after a few too many vodka and Red Bulls. Add an intriguing concept involving cyberspace, artificial intelligence and mankind’s addiction to technology and you have something pretty damn special (imagine the theme and mood of Queensryche’s “Screaming in Digital” stretched out to album length). There’s a strangely touching and morose vibe throughout that makes the material even more compelling and this is right up there with the best metal concept albums of all time IMHO.  The re-issue sounds great, features a very well done presentation with a history of the band and separate booklets for each album. Impressive across the boards.

While I still wonder why these guys didn’t attract more attention in their day, I’m happy the metal world is getting another chance to hear these albums and give Hollow some well earned posthumous praise. Go buy this for yourself and several for your friends as gifts and don’t fuck up your second chance to hear some amazing metal!

Highlights: Every track is outstanding but “Transcending Sorrow,” Secluded Dreams,” “Binary Creed” and “Alone in Darkness” are tops.

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