Release Date: 19th October 2018
Label: //Hollow Music
Does your band down-tune your guitars for no valid reason? Does your lead vocalist handle the screams and your guitarist the cleans, both in an assumed American accent no less? Does your band name scream pretension? If you answered yes to all of the above, then congratulations! You’ve just won “generic metalcore bingo”.
For those not familiar, Our Hollow, Our Home are a metalcore act from Southampton (not the U.S.) formed in 2013. The band released their debut EP in 2015 followed by their first full length two years later, but it was the single released in early summer of 2017 that turned the most heads. Remember how omnipresent Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ was? Well OH,OH decided to cover it. Now, metal covers of non-metal songs is by no means a new move – one might even say the gimmick grew old very fast – but that’s not to say there isn’t integrity behind it. Converge’s cover of The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s cover of ‘Come To Daddy’ by Aphex Twin, and of course Cancer Bats’ rendition of The Beastie Boys’ classic ‘Sabotage’ all spring to mind. These examples were created by artists who wanted to honour the impact their respective influences had on their career – all three songs were originally composed before the ‘cover’ bands had even formed – and the fact that Cancer Bats regularly perform ‘Sabotage’ and Dillinger were still playing ‘Come To Daddy’ until their demise reveals the love these artists have for their idols. Let’s see if the ‘Shape Of You’ cover (released one month after Sheeran’s album came out) will feature in Our Hollow, Our Home’s live set once their latest album is released. Who knows, maybe the pop acoustic stylings of Ed Sheeran is a much bigger influence on the metalcore band than it would appear.
But onto the band’s latest album, In Moment // In Memory (hey, that kinda looks like Lost Forever // Lost Together by Architects). The release opens with an instrumental intro track accompanied by a sampled speech about dealing with grief, setting the lyrical tone for the album. Interlude tracks occur throughout the album, with one appearing every two tracks and only one of them featuring vocals and a full band set up (most are reverb heavy and without percussion). One assumes the main intention of interlude tracks is to create segues between songs, and while the purpose is understandable, they run the risk of being skipped on a second listen. At their best (see: any Tool album) they showcase instrumental and sonic experimentation, but still come across as merely tolerable and not as enjoyable as the full songs. On In Moment // In Memory, it seemed like an excuse to include clean guitars with reverb. Most of the interludes are around one minute long, which isn’t long enough to generate any form of atmosphere, which is a shame as penultimate track ‘Parting Gift’ is a good example of including cleans in a metal environment. Unfortunately the song comes straight after a clean interlude, which somewhat undermines its place…
The album showcases solid production, with the instruments being layered well throughout all the tracks. OH,OH are clearly competent on their instruments, and there are several moments throughout the album that display inventive and creative riffs. Unfortunately, the vocals let the team down, as they are insufferable. As previously mentioned, the band are from Southampton yet sing with American accents; an action many would (and should) consider unforgivable. Lead vocalist Connor Hallisey also utilises a more shouty tone to contrast his harsh vocals, but seems limited in his vocal phrasing. Tracks ‘Disconnect’, ‘Love Loss’, ‘Wraiths’ and ‘Divisions (The Exchange)’ all feature the same rhythm, delivered in an annoying fake US whine; give them a listen, you’ll notice it soon enough. Clean vocalist/guitarist Tobias Young has dialled down the stateside influence since covering Ed Sheeran, but the vocals are still reminiscent of mid 00’s emo found on Kerrang!.
Furthermore, the songwriting itself (despite featuring the occasional cool guitar riff) is formulaic and predictable. Multiple songs open heavy before making the inevitable jump to a more pop-punk styled chorus. Breakdowns appear so frequently throughout the album that the listener becomes desensitised to them. It also becomes anticipated when Young’s vocals are going to take over from Hallisey, rendering the contrast of ‘light and shade’ redundant. Eight bars of harsh vocals? Here comes a clean chorus!
To anyone who hasn’t listened to much modern metalcore, or even metal for that matter, In Moment // In Memory may come across as an achievement. Strong, professional production, the occasional heavy riff and screamed vocals contrasted with clean singing, interlude tracks to suggest songwriting maturity, it’s all there. But for those who have heard anything Architects have released in the last ten years, not to mention the countless other bands who try (and often fail) to copy them; it’s been done.
Recommended Track: Parting Gift