Hollow Leg
Crown

From the fertile, fly-infested breeding grounds of Florida that have delivered unto the Earth the sludge majesty of Cavity, Railsplitter, Dove, Floor, House of Lightning, Consular, Shroud Eater and so many more iron-forgers of the riff hails Hollow Leg. I’m fuckin’ red with embarrassment on one cheek and am deservedly wearing egg on the other, because I’ve missed two previous full-lengths from this band and the riff-after-riff altar worship I have beheld on the band’s latest Crown has just earned them a lifetime listener and follower.

Gravitating towards the infinite riff wisdom of Sabbath, Cathedral, Cavity, Bongzilla, Buzzove*n, Sleep, Eyehategod, St. Vitus, Kilara, Soulpreacher, Maryland doom and Dove, these mean ass motherfuckers make no bones that they are firmly planted in the southern-fried Sabbath side of the business.  They’re crusty as fuck though… somewhat reminiscent of the UK filth riff/sludge scene including Hard to Swallow, Among the Missing, Charger, Orange Goblin and Iron Monkey. The glass chawin’, blood-in-lung vocals of one of my personal favorites Scott Angelacos (current Junior Bruce and former Bloodlet/Hope and Suicide) have just the right amount of decipherability and ratcheting anger in them to be something venomously special, the rhythm section works hard and puts in the overtime and the guitar glory is soaked in righteously notated grooves, heatstroke solos and general drunken dementia.  No wheel shall be reinvented here but every single riff and heart attack serious proclamation shall peddle nothing less than all out destruction.

“Seaquake” shifts the tectonic foundation with an overdriven battery hinting at a High on Fire level of stoner thrashing madness but soon the bass digs in deeper than a castle moat with the riffs strangling the life out of vintage blues progressions full of big bending notes and power chord salvos that whip upwards and transform into looming, godlike entities where every forcefully pushing Iommi-throttled riff creates effortlessly mountain moving, heavy hellbent might.  Scratchy solos are loaded with bad attitude and bad acid yet enough musical control to build an unbreakable bridge to the next executioner’s axe drop of detuned blues-doom riffing via riffmaster Tim Creter.  Feedback shrieks and buried melodic interjections plant the demon seed of texture and layered outgrowth into Hollow Leg’s vile preaching but even the melodic shading feels caustic and teeming with societal unrest.  Also earning high marks from this sicko is the scathing, slightly infectious sandpaper raw hardcore bark that is not only as violent as sludge vocals get yet feels original when compared to more straightforward scream/growl accoutrements.  No matter how you slice it, Scott sounds like he’s getting his larynx pulled out with a rusty tractor chain and therefore delivers one of the best performances of his career.

The opening riff of “Coils” couldn’t simply be any better…sweet Jesus fuck.  It’s a monument to malicious up-tempo doom swing with numerous charges of assault and battery on its docket.  Loud and dominant like a Vitus/Soulpreacher/Earthride kind of soul sawer where every thick wall of electrified blues is hammered into place by dogged fills and relentless downward bass plunges.  Those warty, life lashed vocals are heavy on the phlegm, Lemmy and Sherm while the axe deals a deck of death riffs that both damn and heal thanks to some soulfully warped lead guitar ooze, sly rhythm pattern change-ups and riffs that avoid stagnation. And there ain’t no fuckin’ with that thundercrack riff entering at the 2:48 mark, especially when followed by that roaming, “never comin’ home” sorrowful lead guitar lick… the style doesn’t get no better and it is HEAVY as fuck when these wild men lay into it. A ritualistic tom-drum cycle summons a sinister, bad hoodoo voodoo riff during “The Serpent in the Ice’s” savage intro.  The fang-drawn, punk cum metal riffing reeks of Cavity’s most fork-tongued Sabbath swagger biting into Black Flag flesh.  The ever busy, always intricate drumming never loses the beat while the bass wraps its tail around the throat of the limber blues-riff nihilism which literally veers into every note my mind wanted to hear.  It’s just fucked up, fuckin’ unstoppable grooves delivered with conviction by an entire band of musical marauders while some madmen spews psychedelic bent carnage into terrorizing, somehow catchy vocal phrasings.  4:19 brings in yet another riff that spiraled me into an epileptic head-nod mantra totally controlled by the arrangement of the song’s rapturous power chord arrangements and psilocybin solo solar flares.  Just when you think you’ve had all you can take the band steamrolls home a doom riff so obscene it’s practically indecent exposure.  It’s almost too fuckin’ risqué for the ears but it continually heaps on new layers of piston-pressed doom blues grooves and cascading leads.

The pagan taps of hand percussion, acoustic guitars, handclaps, lonely fuzz chords and watery bass vibrations of instrumental “Atra” avoid the filler category, ending up a hop-a-long campfire ditty after which all of the tired travelers are hacked to bloody chunks amidst the rage of a forest dwelling maniac.  The acoustic instrumentation bleeds into “Electric Veil” with its elegant American gothic hooks weaving in and out of a fluid bass line.  Soon the vocals caterwaul into an accusatory, cigarette burnt shout with the low-end shoving the guitars into another instantly head-banging, air guitar worthy barrage of doom riff royalty.  The tune morphs betwixt segments of rhythm section led bluesy 2-step before the guitars stampede through elephantine grooves so goddamn good my mere mortal words fail to properly encapsulate Hollow Leg’s massive efforts.  There’s kind of an “Electric Funeral-ish” swing going on later in this track but played 20 times heavier with forays into solemn, burden shackled grooves and squealing Dave Chandler-esque solos interpreted with a more melodic fervor appearing thereafter while those vocals bulldoze their way through the shit of this miserable life.  Balancing bottomed-out depression doom riffs with melodically gleaming southern gems “Seven Heads” stays low to the ground like a winter snow plow until its final ¼ where the guitar-work turns into a cosmic vacuum of sucking force strong enough to swallow the infinite.  Closer “New Cult” slithers forth like an unholy Hydra that’s many heads include Grief, Noothgrush and Burning Witch but despite the busted bone, white knuckle drag the rhythms flow like freshly volcano melted, liquid human soot beneath tree bending Sabbath riffs that are some of the goddamn heaviest in the universe.  Sundering volume swells dip down into restrained psychedelic ebb n’ flow smoldering atop of a deliberate drum march before another one of the album’s skyscraper tall riffs completely obscures everything else in sky view (with an appropriately psyched-out guitar solo adding unexpected melodic grandeur to this behemoth of a track.).

Hollow Leg’s Crown is an essential purchase for sludge fans that cut their teeth on the old school version of the style before other disparate elements started seeping into the mix.  This record is comprised of nothing but godly riffs that stack one on top of another and hit every top-tier chord progression in the process.  With Scott’s scummy vocals at the helm and a rhythm section so deep that they sound like they’re transmitting from the bottom of a meteor crater, Hollow Leg are heavy without posturing or pretense.  Crown is sure to be my most highly recommended album in the genre this year!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
May 27th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: SludgeHammer

    You had me at Iron Monkey, I’ll be buying a copy of this. Great review.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Fuck yeah man! I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be disappointed. This shit is beyond is great.


  3. Commented by: Jay

    And thanks for the kind words about the review!


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