Maryland based four-piece Hollowed Sky released their first LP Unstrung in February of 2021. This collection compiles the band’s most definitive songs from their 2017 debut to 2020’s Strings EP, with each track remixed and remastered. The decision was sparked by the band’s desire to improve the mix for the five tracks on Strings EP, and I could definitely say they did a wonderful job. Each song sounds more spacious and captures the passion and the energy of the band, which gives it a live show kind of vibe – one that we’re all longing for during these times. Also, the decision to add in songs from their debut makes this the definitive choice for newcomers and older listeners alike.
Unstrung still has that 90’s to aughts era rock feel to it – along the lines of Godsmack, Deftones and Alice in Chains. A sound that would no doubt be very familiar to radio listeners of that time. One thing of note though is the myriad of unique directions and the flexibility that their music displays – one that could glide as easily from the funky and smooth vibes of Incubus and 311 to the heavy prog sounds ala Tool.
I would describe their music as proto-metal with a melodic and funky edge, carried by heartfelt lyrics that delves on difficult subjects. The band likes to go big on their song structures, with elaborate bridge and outro sections fueled by a rumbling of rage and passion. The guitars and drums can really go loud when they want to, but they can just as easily dial it down with skill and finesse – especially in sections where vocalist Jay Orem takes over and requires some breathing room.
“Strings” sounds wide and even more dynamic this time around. The riffs and heavy breakdowns balance well with Orem’s biting vocals as he sings about addiction and how easily it can control one’s life. “Breathing Life into the Sun” displays the dynamism of the band. It’s lyrically dense with plenty of soft and loud sections tip-toeing against each other, as if teetering off the edge of a large cliff.
Other highlights include “This Hell”, which was one of my favorites from the previous EP. Inspired by someone’s fight against cancer, this is a song that exudes sympathy while at the same time serves as an encouraging piece for all. “Earth & Sky” is another standout, one that mashes together elements of prog rock and psych while displaying what the band does best: going loud and hard.
Remixing Unstrung was not something I expected from the band, as other groups would have been fine moving onto the next project. Yet this is something that has paid off immensely for them. With a beefier sound and a fresh coat of paint on their songs, Hollowed Sky feels stronger than ever.