Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hollow Haze - Countdown To Revenge (2013)

Italy is home to some incredible metal. What the Italian metal bands put out nowadays is mind blowing. Bands like Heimdall and Kaledon are proving that power metal is absolutely not stale. Hollow Haze is another band that can be added to the list. In 2006 they released their self-titled album which had some problems, but showed the potential that the band would grow into. The next albums “The Hanged Man” and “End of a Dark Era” were a major improvement and had more progressive elements. When they released “Poison in Black” in 2012, they completely overshadowed their previous work. “Poison in Black” was the highest point they reached in their career. It was bigger, heavier and more solid than anything before it. Alex Sonato reached new heights with his vocals and every instrument was top-notch. It didn’t seem possible to top “Poison in Black”, but “Countdown to Revenge” proves everyone wrong. With Fabio Lione and Nightseeker and the Wintermoon orchestra at the helm, Hollow Haze has again made an amazing album.

“Watching in Silence” has an epic, symphonic intro before it explodes into something that transcends progressive and power metal to create a concoction that is strictly Hollow Haze. It’s as if Dream Theater and Heimdall had a love child. It’s entrancing, one of the best songs they’ve ever written, and sets up the rest of the album perfectly. Fabio Leone also shows another side of his vocals that you won’t find on any Rhapsody of Fire albums. “Still Alive” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and it keeps the flow going. “No Rest for the Angels” opens with another symphonic intro that shows that the Wintermoon Orchestra give Hollow Haze a more grand sound that they never had before. The chorus is also one of the best on the album. “Life Has No Meaning” is one of the weaker tracks. It’s not an awful song, but it slows the pace down and it seems to drag on. If there is a track that can be skipped, it’s this one. “We Must Believe” puts the album back on track and is second to none. The chorus and the guitar solo are standouts that need to be heard. It’s most definitely the most epic song on the album. “The Answer” is a good song that just doesn’t do anything new, but it’s a perfect track to pave the way for the stellar “Il Tempo del Fuoco.” This is one of the catchiest songs they’ve ever written. Another high point on the album. “A Fading Angel’s Life” is another track that’s not bad at all, but it just doesn’t do anything for the album. The only saving grace that prevents it from being skipped is the incredible bridge. The orchestra is beautiful and so is the guitar solo. Nick Savio’s guitar playing has become incredible over the years. Everything from his song writing abilities to his tone, everything is top-notch. The title track, “Countdown to Revenge,” is the longest, and the absolute best song on the album. It feels like everything they’ve done on the album comes together in one nice package. The keyboards are incredible and so is the acoustic interlude. It’s probably the most varied and most solid song they’ve done in their career.

Hollow Haze has always been a good band. “Poison in the Black” made them a great band. “Countdown to Revenge” has made them an incredible band. Don’t let the couple of so-so tracks detract you from this album. This is really good material that should not be missed. It’s better than “Poison in Black” in every way. The keyboards, orchestration, guitar and vocals have never sounded better. Fabio Lione gives the band new life and takes them to new territories they haven’t been before. Hollow Haze is tighter and with a more confident sound than ever before. “Countdown to Revenge” proves that bands can get better with each release. Do not miss this one.


- Brian DuBois

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