Album Review: At The Hollow – “What I Hold Most Dear”

At The Hollow
What I Hold Most Dear
(Spinefarm Records)

At The Hollow is a Finnish band who is taking a unique approach to music. The music is made up of a guitar, a contrabass, percussion, and a vocalist, so it’s not as “heavy” as you’d come to expect from Spinefarm Records. At the Hollow certainly is a scholar of what makes music work, as they clearly trace their sonic lineage from the disparate elements of both post-rock and grunge. That said, there is more in common with The Smashing Pumpkins here than Pearl Jam or Creed. This is moody, pensive music meant to make the listener think and feel. Listening to the album feels more like an experience than something you put on as background music at the gym or a party. It’s meant to be taken in all at once. In that regard, it’s difficult not to have an opinion after listening to What I Hold Most Dear.

For all the good this novel idea has, unfortunately, the execution falls a bit flat. Most of What I Hold Most Dear feels like an art exhibit that is easy to appreciate though difficult to love. At The Hollow has created beautiful music, surely (the contrabass is a great addition here), but despite how impressive any of the individual songs feel, the album feels like it’s missing a certain something. The term “boring” gets thrown around a bit too much, especially with slower music, but At The Hollow skirts that line between musically impressive and fairly boring all too often. Kalle Koo’s vocals feel more like another instrument than a vessel for melodies, and while that’s an asset to have, none of the vocal work is all that memorable. Kalle’s voice feels like a gentle breeze, certainly effortless, but that’s really the problem with the whole album. These are clearly impressive, highly-skilled musicians and songwriters; however, What I Hold Most Dear is rather underwhelming because of the clear talent on display.

Overall, At the Hollow is still at the early stages of the band. For a debut to have such a clearly defined and well-executed idea is a feat in and of itself. Hopefully the band can push itself more on future releases to harness the clear potential they have. As it stands currently, At The Hollow is merely a very talented band, but What I Hold Most Dear isn’t a great album. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase What I Hold Most Dear here.

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