If you’re looking for a fresh take on alternative rock, look no further. For those like me who grew up with the genre, the Maryland four-piece Hollowed Sky should be a welcome addition to our dwindling playlist. Their second EP Strings is a blast from the past, but it also blazes a bright future for the band. Hollowed Sky sits on the louder end of the genre, nearly bordering on hard rock. They are not afraid to shake the walls down when they mean business, but a heartfelt sincerity can be heard in the more solemn parts of a song. A careful balance that’s felt especially in Jay Orem’s dynamic vocals, which can flip through melancholy and rage with great ease.
The EP starts with the title track. Stephen Berchielli’s guitar riffs easily hooks you in and keeps you engaged as it evolves in every section, climaxing in a Tom Morello-esque solo. Their interplay with bassist Charles Rupertus is remarkable. Weaving tightly together, a testament to the many hours of jamming in the shed.
“This Hell” is a lament that’s accentuated by shrieking guitars and Joe Bradshaw’s doom-stricken drums. The song serves as a tribute to a young girl’s fight against cancer. Orem’s tone is resolute as he recounts her bravery despite the unfavorable odds: “You don’t own me, and I’m not scared.”
“Bleeding Out” is where Jay Orem’s vocal style shines at its best. And the band knows it, giving him enough space to breathe in between falsetto croons and pounding belts. You can hear shades of Brandon Boyd’s tone in him, as well as his versatility in range. Always managing to keep it loud and full in between melodic riffs.
The closer “Baltimore” is filled with composed anger and conviction. A song that details the greed and corruption of politicians at the expense of its citizens. Screeching riffs and heavy distortion fills every space, carried by the thundering of drums, reflecting in the band’s pent up rage and frustration.
One thing that jumped out to me on repeat listens was that Hollowed Sky sounded familiar. I could name a few bands like Tool and Incubus and Nirvana, but none of that hits it on the head. The band has its own brew going on, it borrows a lot from its influences but still manages to put their signature spin on it. Strings is a tightly spun album and a clear indication that the band is coming up with its own identity. The only thing I would have wanted was a better production quality, since the DIY quality of the mix seems muddy in places. Still, I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before the band figures it out and I can’t wait to hear more.
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