Hollow Haze
Poison in Black
Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: 25 September, 2012
Playing time: 58:39

This is my first encounter with the Italian dark beast by the name of “Hollow Haze”, even though they took their first baby steps on our blue planet in the year of 2003, formed by Nick Savio the mastermind and lead guitarist of the group. Since then they have grown and matured into a hard & heavy metal group who always found courage to explore uncharted territories, challenging themselves and their always faithful crowd of metalheads. Labeled as a progressive metal group I became curious, because this is my kind of sound, and so I accepted the mission to strip the clothes of their latest craftsmanship entitled ‘Poison in Black’ to unveil the dark secrets hidden deep within.

In 2006, three years after the creation of the dark beast itself, the quintet was finally ready to unleash their debut and self-titled album. Two more albums followed, their sophomore release “The Hanged Man” in 2008, and then their highly acclaimed third contribution “End of a Dark Era” in 2010. It was the birth of a new era in their musical career, and also introduced an almost complete new line-up with founding member Nick as the only remaining crewmember from the old days. The skilled singer Alex “Ramon” Sonata took over the responsibilities of the vocal duties of Ivan Rave with his powerful and controlled pipes, and the big pounding thunderous sounds would be delivered to us by drummer Camillo Colleluori (ex-Broken Arrow, ex-Arthur Falcone and ex-Garden Wall). The last missing pieces to complete the puzzle were Dave Cestaro on bass guitar and Simone Giorgini on keyboard.

So with a third release that was highly praised in the metal music business, and got them the much needed attention from the metal scenes all over the world, I’m still scratching my head and wondering how each of their efforts managed to go unnoticed by my eyes and ears until now. Lucky for me their fourth epos ‘Poison in Black’, and maybe their most impressive and ambitious work to date, didn’t manage to slip through my fingers this time.

Their latest contribution is a dark voyage through twelve songs (including one cover song of Black Sabbath) running nearly 59 minutes of total playing time. The musical journey is introduced to our ears with a grandiose and epic cinematic intro song called ‘Rise Above’, perfectly setting the tone for what will be unveiled to our ears on the following songs. This could easily have been a piece of a movie soundtrack with its beautifully orchestral arrangements, and made award-winning composer Howard Shore very proud indeed. The second song ‘Tears of Pain’ explodes into an old school heavy metal “tour de force” performance with symphonic/orchestral elements complementing it without being to upfront and drowning it entirely. Third song ‘Never Turn Back’ is a typical mid tempo heavy metal song with an incredible groovy feel attached to it. It’s followed up by ‘Haunting the Sinner’ a power metal song with a fast upbeat tempo and a melodic soaring vocal performance delivered by the pipes of Alex, that should satisfy even the most pure hearted power metal fan out there. Some other songs worth mentioning are the two highlights of the album ‘Pray For You’, which is another power metal song with some nice progressive influences with the razor sharp guitar riffs delivered by Mr. Savio, and then the song’s follower ‘Remorse’, my personal favorite song from the album. It’s a showcase of their high level of musicianship, and the many influences from power, prog and melodic metal woven into their own heavy metal sound.

To be truly honest, straightforward heavy metal out of the box is not normally my cup of tea, but with a modern touch added to the cocktail, it has actually become delicious and kinda tasty. The many different flavors from each song are still being digested by my metalbrain and the hidden ace up their sleeve, also pronounced Sonata, did really knock me off my feet. Frontman Alex “Ramon” Sonata who could be mistaken as the “son” of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford or the “twin brother” of Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Beyond Twilight, Epysode, Darkology, Adagio etc.) with his controlled screams to melodic stuff and ballads, has shown the potential of becoming a hero amongst the mightiest and most powerful singers on the metal scene today, and so this quintet is doomed to succeed and have a bright future ahead of them. This is without a second thought one of this year’s best heavy metal experiences presented to my ears, and it will certainly capture more metalheads to the fan base of ‘Hollow Haze’. The question is then will you our fellow reader be joining them?

01. Rise Above (Intro)
02. Tears Of Pain
03. Never Turn Back
04. Haunting The Sinner
05. Lords Of World
06. Hit In Time
07. Chained
08. Pray For You
09. Remorse
10. Voodoo Rites
11. Snowblind
12. Headless Cross
Label: Bakerteam Records
Distribution: Scarlet Records
Artwork rating: 81/100
Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt
Date: 11 December, 2012
Website: www.myspace.com/hollowhazemusic