Album Review: Hollow Haze – Poison In Black
For almost a decade, Hollow Haze has been producing hard and heavy songs with captivating melodies and refined orchestrations. Their fourth album, Poison In Black, on 25th September 2012 – one that will surely garner attention the band deserves. Without having heard prior releases, I am learning that this new album is the most mature effort for these Italian rockers. I can tell from what I have been spinning repeatedly over the last week or so that this is a quality album release with ample effort put into creating well-balanced Hard rock music. The new album is a well-rounded set of songs with mixed tempos, headbanging rhythms, and sing-along choruses and a cool cover song.
The 2+ minute intro at the beginning is quite a buildup of orchestral arrangements and atmospheres. There is an element of “something big is going to happen” and that’s when the first lyrical track, Tears of Pain, kicks in. Based on the intro this could be a make or break moment for the album, as the intro really built a certain level of anticipation. Initially, the vocals are reminiscent of vocal master Rob Halford’s growls and glass shattering screams; that’s how commanding the first impression on Poison In Black is. The vocal work on Tears of Pain is so good that Hollow Haze could do some cool Judas Priest covers, but we’ll get to their actual Sabbath cover later.
Never Turn Back is more of a heavy fist-in-the-air 80s metal song. Once the vocals take over, they are more clean and clear on this song that the previous opener. There is obvious depth in the vocal department to come out with blazing Halford-like glory and then turn to a more clean range. This is a great rock song; nothing more/nothing less. It has a familiar riff which is nostalgic, but still fresh sounding. Hit In Time is the polar opposite of this song; very upbeat, more obvious orchestral arrangements, and great riffs. Again, the well-rounded nature of this album keeps moving from slow, to heavy, to more upbeat tempos, and back again; never gets boring.
The third song (with lyrics), Haunting the Sinner, shows off a bit of a Power metal vibe. It has a Helloween style to it which I liked a lot and is a complimentary comparison. I think it’s one of the best songs on the CD along with Pray For You; both songs display clean and very powerful vocal ranges. There are some spots with double-bass drum that speed things up a bit and take the normal Hard rock sound to a new, more aggressive, level.
Poison In Black is a great Hard rock album. There are some cool familiar elements; a bit of Ozzy influence (Zakk Wylde more specifically). It nothing excessive, just hints of Zakk here and there. There are (mandatory) guitar solos which are a staple of Hard rock music. The overall tone of the album is nothing to start a mosh pit to, but definitely throw your fist in the air and have a damn good time music. Oh, for the cover song – Hollow Haze covered Headless Cross from Black Sabbath…you know the Sabbath era with that other guy (Tony Martin) singing. It’s a great cover where vocalist Alex “Ramon” Sonato actually sounds a bit like Martin.
The one thing (among many things) I like about Hollow Haze is that they don’t seem to be trying to cross multiple genres. Although genre-bending is a cool bonus in many ways, it is always refreshing when a band just wants to be a rock band and nothing more. I think Hollow Haze is a great example of a classic Hard rock band with hints of Power metal here and there, but mostly good old-fashioned familiar Hard rock that actually rocks!