I’m always encouraged when I hear a debut musical project that offers an approach that comes off as seasoned and professional. It’s hard to pull off a really great debut in a lot of ways. There’s a feeling-out process, and certain aspects of those beginning songs usually change or develop the musical direction for future releases. With the debut release by Jupiter Hollow now available in EP form in Odyssey, it’s not only incredibly interesting to me to hear such a mature and dignified sound from a first outing, but to hear one from these incredibly young performers is even more inspiring.
The group is a two-piece project consisting of guitars and bass by Grant MacKenzie, while
vocals and drums are done by Kenny Parry, with both members handling synth and keyboard sections. Mackenzie is 21 while Parry is 18, and at such a young age, you’d be totally fooled after listening to this recording into thinking they were musical veterans. And while the duo does wear their influences on their sleeves at times, it’s genuinely original music.
Jupiter Hollow play an eclectic mix of progressive rock and metal, with a strong emphasis on syncopated instrumentation and atmospheric melody that keeps the listener excited and clamoring for more. This is readily apparent on the opener ‘Deep In Space’. The song features energetic singular guitar to start which explodes into a full-on prog vibe. Bright and soaring vocals from Parry sit atop a shift from heavy to melodic, with the latter parts offering beautiful piano and strummed guitar chords with well placed bass and intense drumming. This builds back up to the harder vibe that the band started the song off on. It’s a great introduction to the musical partners, and fully shows off their sound in a big way. ‘Ascending’ follows, and it’s a short and sweet atmospheric and melodic track, with a focus on the vocals and guitar melody. ‘Hades Heart’ goes back to the nice mix of hard and punchy with a great sense of melody like ‘Deep In Space’. This song reminds me of Tool in places, but not in a copycat approach like some bands tend to do. There’s just some nice hints of the aforementioned bands subtle music from years past, which is welcome to these ears.
‘Over 50 Years’ gives us an interesting distorted guitar sound which helps launch the drive of this more upbeat song with some frantic chugging and twists and turns, complete with some guttural vocals which caught me off guard, but they were used only in one section, so it works well without taking focus off the rest of the song. This EP closes off with the title track, which is more laid back and serene with some nice Rush-like moments in the arrangements, with the all instruments syncopated tightly, providing a remarkable cohesion of all sounds.
It’s interesting to note that Parry’s voice sounds somewhat similar to a young Geddy Lee, which works well with the expressiveness of the music, and he showcases it perfectly on each song. His drumming is also energetic and feverish, which bumps up the energy of the band’s sound. MacKenzie’s guitar and bass approach are tempered at times, but he knows how to let loose and get crazy when the music calls for it. I’d love to see the duo be able to perform live, however with only two members, I would hope the live musicians would be able to duplicate the sound accurately.
It’s incredibly exciting to think that with these guys being in their late teens to early twenties, and with just this release under their belt so far (with the writing process already started on their full-length debut), that they are brimming with this much talent and prospects for their future. This EP is such a great mix of technique with beautiful ambiance, radiant melodies, and soulful musicianship. I can’t wait to hear more material.
01. Deep In Space
03. Hades Heart
04. Over 50 Years
Playing time: 23:23
Release date: 13 January, 2017
Website: Official Jupiter Hollow Website