Hollowstar – ‘Hollowstar’
Release Date: 03/05/2019
Running Time: 39:23
Review by Paul Monkhouse
With more and more of the major bands calling it a day as farewell tours by legends such as Sabbath, UFO, Skynyrd, Slayer, Ozzy and others seemingly signal the end of an era, it would be very easy to get too concerned about the future of rock and metal. Truth be told, whilst some of the giants are waving long goodbyes, there are plenty of fantastic bands constantly emerging to inject fresh blood into the scene and acts like Zeppelin, Metallica and Queen had to pay their dues and work their way up in the same way this new generation are. Whilst fame can be found by appearing on talent shows, that is virtually always fleeting, but grassroots artists are going out and playing every pub, hall and festival they can as they learn and grow their skills the hard way. Hollowstar are one such band, road-dogs who are constantly travelling the length and breadth of the country to growing acclaim and with this, the Cambridgeshire quartet’s self-titled debut album, they have shown that all the hard work has paid off.
Few times was the phrase “kicking things off” more apt than with opener ‘Take It All’ as it absolutely blasts out, its rampaging riff hitting you like a freight train. Singer/bass player Joe Bonsons vocals come through urgent and forceful to back this as all four members of Hollowstar bring the experience of those hard-fought hours touring to bear on a powerful distillation of their craft that has translated incredibly well to the recording studio. ‘Let You Down’ and ‘Invincible’ both share a strutting, cocky swagger that are full of the youthful energy that melds classic rock with a very modern sound, a huge part of the growing attraction to the band. Things slow down a little with the more laid back ‘Think of Me’, filled as it is with tenderness and feeling. Such is the songwriting and thought about the flow of the album that this easing of the pace doesn’t kill the momentum but just gives a much-needed breather. Many bands, especially the newer ones, fall into the trap of delivering one note records that are all bluster but no colour. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with Hollowstar and, as such, this debut exudes quality that is built to last.
More of this maturity is shown in ‘Money’ as it showcases the superb intonation of the vocals as Bonson echoes some of the giant front men of the past. Phil Haines and Tom Collett’s guitars also take no prisoners as they add grit and drive to the track which builds beautifully driven by Bonson’s bass and brother Jack Bonson’s drums. A real highlight comes with ‘All I Gotta Say’ that has a riff and bluster that could demolish buildings but also a real sense of dynamics which adds to the heightened drama and epic feel of the track. ‘Good Man Gone’ is another steamroller and ‘Overrated’ is a maelstrom of sound that brings together scuzzy hard rock that is shot through with a real ‘Southern’ feel.
Closing duo ‘Down by the Water’ and ‘Sinner’ are perfect in structure and are full on declarations that the band have arrived and stake their claim on the scene. Brilliantly produced by Dan Lambert, the album is relatively short by some standards these days but presents itself as a lean and dangerous prospect that, as a lot of classic albums do, gets in, does the job and gets out. These are tracks that should be played on stages at arenas, stadiums and huge festivals and the opportunities to do just that keep on coming in. If they carry on like this there is no limit to what Hollowstar can achieve. Buy this album and see them live as this is one party you certainly don’t want to be late to.
01. Take It All
02. Let You Down
04. Think of Me
06. All I Gotta Say
07. Good Man Gone
09. Down By The Water
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Photograph supplied courtesy of Volcanic Rock Photography