I first encountered Hollowstar last year, when a single arrived for review, 'All I Gotta Say'. I was immediately impressed. While they might've leapt onto the retro rock resurgence bandwagon, they seemed to be steering it their own way. It was at the heavier end of the rock scale, with chunky, resonant riffage that stepped over into metal territory. And a whole ton of genuine energy. It was "a clichéd little fucker", for sure, as I commented in my review, but with compositional astuteness and free-flowing flair that's often lacking from this kind of retro stuff. I also commented: "If this bunch can maintain this level of compositional quality throughout all their material, their future will undoubtedly be a very promising one." Has this been the case with their debut full-length offering? Generally, yes, it has. Most of this new material fits how I described their 2018 single.
I've scored this album half a mark less than the single, as not all of the material is quite as engaging as 'All I Gotta Say'. Don't get me wrong - it's all engaging stuff in its own way, but Hollowstar set the bar high with last year's release. As such, some tracks hit the heady heights of 'All I Gotta Say', whereas others are ever so slightly subpar (only in a comparative sense, I hasten to add).
In terms of musicality, it's all great. The dual guitar attack of Phil Haines and Tom Collett is fantastic throughout, with both providing a hefty slab of hard-hitting riffs through a nicely fat sound, and some fantastic leads and solos, plus a few clean guitar interjections. Jack Bonson's sticksmanship provides songs with an energetic backbone, along with his brother, Joe, on bass, and the latter's vocals are top-notch - from his smooth-toned delivery, to his semi-gruff rock vox.
All in all, Hollowstar's first album is a winner. And I'm sure what I've construed as "subpar" tracks will be digested by others as top-notch material. It's all subjective, right? Undoubtedly, it'll all take on a whole new life in a live context - if these guys can put on a live show that does their recorded material justice, then they could very well be the next big British breakthrough act in the seemingly incessantly popular retro rock scene.
Review by Mark Holmes
3rd May 2019
1) Take It All
2) Let You Down
4) Think of Me
6) All I Gotta Say
7) Good Man Gone
9) Down By The Water
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...if these guys can put on a live show that does their recorded material justice, then they could very well be the next big British breakthrough act in the seemingly incessantly popular retro rock scene."