On Hollow Leg‘s third full length Crown, the band’s steady diet of sludge and stoner fueled southern metal sees yet another go around. But the upfront aggression heard on their previous works has been dialed back to allow room for a blues based sound. Most of these songs find a slow to mid paced speed and unerringly stick to it. Not a bad thing at all in this case as this four piece knows how to write some molasses thick riffs and catchy tunes. Compared to their last two, if anything, this is the sound of a band hitting a comfortable and assured level of maturity.
Sludge and stoner metal take their knocks for not being entirely different from the early originators. And sure, it’s not for everyone but to simply write Hollow Leg off as yet another bunch of try-hards would be a grave mistake. Admittedly, on first listen, there are some easily interchangeable parts. However, with time invested the bluesy nuances stand out and the album as a whole proves to be one of the most cohesive, if not the best, in the band’s discography.
Hollow Leg has done much to improve in the three years since Abysmal. The riffs are thicker, the fuzz is deeper, and the drums are exceptional (“The Serpent In the Ice”). The most glaring examples of how far this band has come is in the sly blues approach and patient heaviness in both “Electric Veil” and “Seven Heads”. The former takes honest cues from the doomy plod of Sabbath and doubles down on the acid drenched 70’s styled guitar work. While the latter sets an ominous tone early, only to rip the silence wide open with downtuned sludge and extraordinary chord progressions. And as with most tracks offered it’s Scott Angelacos’s gruff yells that propel this album into the same territory with the best that southern metal has to offer.
It would be a huge error to not mention the all acoustic, slap rythym of “Atra”. The band has done this kind of thing before with “Pompeii” (Abysmal) but it just didn’t quite fit. This time, and amongst the southern fried tunes elsewhere, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the mood of the album as a whole. Giving that lazy day feel of a swampy humid summer evening. There’s just something magical in the sound of bands that hail from the southern regions and particularly from where the heat is almost unbearable for most of the year. Acid Bath, Eyehategod, and Weedeater stand out at first pass and these influences are the lifeblood that courses through this album.
With Crown, Hollow Leg has tightened their songwriting immensely, as well as slightly retooling their sound to focus on the downtuned groove of previous works and because of it have come away with a successful, hard to put down third effort. It doesn’t steal from any of its influences, rather it expands on each and every one, leaving them better than they found them. It’s slow, low, and damn addictive. The album was previously released in March of this year via the Italian label Argonauta Records but will now see release by the band itself in the USA and Canada so there’s no excuse not to pick it up. And I highly suggest getting on that if this kind of music trips your trigger.