Released: 2016, Argonauta Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
The last time I listened to Hollow Leg, I think it was right around when their debut INSTINCT came out in 2010. It was a good, but nothing to write home about, stoner sludge album. Amazing what a difference a few years and some additions to the lineup can do, as their latest, CROWN, is a solid and memorable slab of southern fried doom.
The first thing that immediately sticks out is the addition of vocalist Scott Angelacos and bassist Tom Crowther to the Hollow Leg family, both from the CRIMINALLY underrated Junior Bruce. While they were both on board for 2013’s ABYSMAL outing, I missed that album entirely, so hearing their presence on CROWN was a pleasant surprise. Angelacos in particular gives the music a growling mouthful of sharp and mangled teeth; dude sounds like Matt Pike’s doppelganger in the most complementary way possible. The tunes are a familiar stew of Sabbath n’ sludge, but there’s a constant, smoldering burn in the guitar tones that make the riffs absolutely roar. Gems like “Coils” and the standout “The Serpent in the Ice” inject some psychedelic, Electric Wizard-esque breaks into the recipe, while “Electric Veil” pays homage to the scene’s blues roots; there’s not a ton of variety on the album, but Hollow Leg does put in the effort to try and keep your attention.
That being said, the general tone of the album is so persistently thick, CROWN runs the risk of coming across a little obtuse as it progresses. If you’re committed to making to the end of the album, there’s a lot to enjoy (particularly “New Cult” and its flailing wah wah), but less diligent listeners might find themselves tuning out. At the end of the day though, Hollow Leg succeeds at delivering an album that not only evolves their own personal brand, but shakes the walls with some defiantly heavy tunes. If you’ve got the likes of Conan, Olde Growth, or Behold! The Monolith in your playlist, CROWN is an album you’ll want to check out.