Released: 2013, Scarlet Records
Vicenza, Italy’s Hollow Haze is back with their fifth album, COUNTDOWN TO REVENGE. Big news this time is Fabio Lione is handling vocal duties on the album, quite a coup for a virtually unknown band. Mixed at Gate Studios in Germany, and produced by perfectionist Sascha Paeth (Angra, Edguy, Avantasia), the band rounds out this effort with a special guest appearance from Rick Altzi of Masterplan on the song “Still Alive”. These are bold moves from a band that is clearly making a play for greater renown. Classifying themselves as melodic metal, the band is far more complex than most melodic metal bands, and more accurately can be described as Italian power metal lite, the band not quite as progressive as bands like Rhapsody Of Fire.
The album is balanced through its entirety with epic orchestral keyboard elements, courtesy of Simone Giorgini of Wintermoon Orchestra, and fast chugging guitars delivered with the expected technical flourishes now routinely associated with Italian Power Metal. Lione alters his vocal delivery to great effect on this album, incorporating passages of greater aggression and singing more in the lower registers than he utilized with Rhapsody Of Fire. That is not to say that he does not still hit the stratosphere on occasion, as the intense “No Rest For Angels” demonstrates. Impressively, the band does a noteworthy job in varying the tempos and styles of some of the songs, as on “Life Has No Meaning”, which moves mid-paced and melodic, using open spaces in place of note dense passages and a resolving and emotional solo near the end. It is probably the closest to the band’s self-described sound, much closer to Fullforce than say Labyrinth.
Guitarist Nick Savio is a real weapon on this album, employing solos that are classical at times, Middle Eastern at others, and NWOBHM as well. Rarely have I heard such a variety of solo styles on an album, and even more rarely, that so many diverse styles actually work towards bettering the song rather than saying “Look at how many styles I can play!” Make no mistake; COUNTDOWN TO REVENGE is a great album that offers less predictability and more stylistic variation then many power metal bands. Sure it is still complex and bombastic, but also digestible and more easily assimilated than more progressive power metal music. I found it a nice change of pace, and if you are a power metal fan looking for something a bit different than the usual, then you should give Hollow Haze a chance.