Artist: Hollow Front
Album: Still Life – EP
As humans, our scientific nature inspires an innate desire to study things—history, art, music, but above all, other organisms. Those things which exist as “lower forms,” be it insects, reptiles, birds or other mammals, we have a fixation on distilling everything we can about something by what it leaves behind; shed skin, bleached bones or rotten flesh.
We fixate on the details. Obsess over the dead to a point of neglecting the living. Focus so heavily on what’s standing motionless in front of us until our own movement stagnates. In doing so, we enter a vicious cycle of emotional and physical self-deprecation—the sounds of which are captured on the Beckwith Records debut effort by Michigan metalcore act, Hollow Front. Far from stagnant and certainly not stationary, Still Life is a stellar example of power meeting in a head-on collision with passion, blending ruthless aggression with riveting energy and intensity to create metalcore that runs the gamut from bouncy to brutal and everything in between, even reaching the far extremes of sincere passion and skin-splitting heaviness. Hollow Front unleash Still Life, a record to prove they, as a band, are not so hollow, and certainly anything but the calm and serenity one might expect from the word still.
Puns aside, Still Life is a rambunctious record that sees the band creating some of their heaviest material to date, all while evolving beyond the confines of their debut record to include an array of more emotive aspects. From the opening numbers—“Don’t Fall Asleep” and “Backbone”—evident of eviscerating heaviness, to “Still Life” and “In Memoriam,” moodier and more introspective numbers, Hollow Front’s growth is boundlessly evident. Percussionist Cody Davis exemplifies this, dominating with heavy feet and fast hands during “Nothing Lasts Forever” and “Don’t Fall Asleep,” setting a thick and relentless foundation for bassist Brandon Rummler and guitarist Dakota Alvarez to absolutely dominate. The duo blend metalcore with groove metal and even elements of post-rock and post-hardcore (especially towards the EP’s conclusion) to give a varied and diverse taste of their collective talents. Rummler’s bass remains dark and murky, adding heft and punch to Davis’ drumming, while Alvarez’s fretwork remains top notch, and while it might not overtly technical or tremendous is all the same energetic and effortlessly holds the listener’s attention. “Backbone” remains a solid example of this, as does “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and, really, each track Still Life has to offer. Hollow Front’s excellent instrumentalists use everything at their disposal to make something fun and thought provoking—as, while it remains a somewhat brief offering of the band’s talents, is well-rounded and full-bodied all the same.
Where Still Life is instrumentally diverse, the work of frontman Tyler Tate is even more so. Tate’s incredible array of vocal styles fills out every track Still Life has to offer, with plenty of more aggressive cuts highlighting his low growls and hectic mid-range yells. Other tracks, especially the closing cuts, are much more melodic and emotionally-driven (I.E., not an emotion driven by rage). These tracks all have a distinct sensation and atmosphere to them in thanks to Tate’s vocal dynamism—in keeping with his ability to write poetic and heartfelt lyrics (even those with both feet planted firmly in the “pissed off” territory). Tate’s work is excellent not only by genre’s standards, but by his own—as his work on Hollow Front’s Still Life is his finest work to date.
Still Life is a stellar release from start to finish, creating a classic blend of metal and hardcore crafting contemporary metalcore mastery. While Hollow Front might not create a whole new genre or reinvent the wheel, as it were, Still Life is an excellent record for what it is; a chance for heavy music fans worldwide to be reminded what made them love metalcore in the first place.
For Fans Of: Like Moths to Flames, Fighting With Bears, Sleep Waker
By: Connor Welsh