Holloway – The Feeble Hearts of Man (2016)
It’s not very often that you come across a very good progressive rock/metal album for the low, low price of free. But that’s exactly what you get if you head on over to Holloway’s website where you can download their newest release “The Feeble Hearts of Man”.
Having never heard the band before (which is surprising since we both hail from Michigan!), I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after downloading the album and giving a listen I was pleasantly surprised by what I was hearing. What I heard was what appeared to be a seamless mix of Progressive Rock, Classic Rock and Metal with an Indie flavor. Being an old-school reviewer I found it difficult place this music into a single category (and I really wanted to!). Instead I listened to the entire album again. And then a few more times. And then even more times after that. What presented was a collection of songs that both already felt familiar to me and yet at the same time were completely new and pleasingly complex yet still extremely digestible, even to a passive fan of music who might normally turn their nose up at the mere mention of “Progressive Rock”.
Loosely based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, The Feeble Hearts of Man starts right out of the gate with the blistering opening riff of progressive metal track “A Nameless Fear”. While every track on the album has progressive rock/metal elements, this is one of a few of tracks that falls completely into that category; the others being “I Remain Silent” and “Bride of Corinth”. If the entire album sounded exactly like these tracks it would be a very good album indeed, but it turns out that it’s the addition of other, less “progressive-sounding” tracks that actually make the album, as a whole, a great album.
Coming off “A Nameless Fear” the listener is greeted with the very power-metal-sounding opening riff of “Daylight” which then leads into an almost industrial metal break that then in turn dissolves into a lighter and more melodic verse, which actually comes across with a Latin flavor, thanks mostly to the percussion. When we finally reach the chorus, it’s back to progressive/power metal and 80s style gang vocal “answers” to the lead vocalist, Ross Morgan’s “calls”. There’s a lot to love about this track but it might take multiple listens to truly take-in everything that’s happening. The same is true of the rest of the album.
The third track, “Spirit of the Depths”, switches gears entirely as the band shows their softer side. This track is best described as an acoustic ballad, but that might be doing it an injustice as with the first two tracks, there’s a lot going on here, albeit in a subtler fashion. The melody here is carried beautifully and powerfully by Morgan’s voice and the outro to the song is a bluesy guitar piece very reminiscent of David Gilmore, which blends nicely into the title track, “The Feeble Hearts of Man”. The concept and melody of “Spirit of the Depths” is also revisited later in a more progressive-rock/metal fashion on the album’s closing track and sister-song, “Spirit of the Void”.
The opening of “The Feeble Hearts of Man” is very much in the style of something that might have otherwise been written by the likes of Steven Wilson. A light and ethereal progressive waltz, Morgan’s breathy vocal leads set the tone for the song which soon builds to a nice, progressive rock crescendo before bringing the listener back around for another Wilson-esque pass of a verse. The chorus, while it seems almost an afterthought to the rest of the song, perfectly bridges together the rest of the track.
The album continues to impress, with every track offering something different stylistically while masterfully managing to keep the “sound feel” of the album intact. Not an easy thing to accomplish, but Holloway has succeeded in doing just that on The Feeble Hearts of Man. The lover of Progressive Rock/Metal will find something to love about every song on the album. Earlier we covered the most “progressive-metal” tracks being “A Nameless Fear”, “I Remain Silent” and “Bride of Corinth”. These are the tracks you’ll probably love right out of the gate. The rest of the tracks are more subtle in their “progressiveness” and tend to so easily blend styles and musical elements that you may find yourself gravitating to one or more of these tracks as your favorite the more you play the album.
Overall this is a great album and, at least for now, you can’t beat the price. So head on over to Holloway’s website and download a copy for free right now to check it out for yourself. If you happen to fall in love with the album after taking the time to fully digest it, then I would encourage you to buy a physical copy from the band to support their efforts so they continue to write and record great music in the future.
Holloway – The Feeble Hearts of Man (2016)
Album Score: 10/10
Album mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios.
Album artwork by Susan Van Sant.
Reviewer’s favorite tracks: “I Remain Silent” and “Distant Tides”