Nick Black - Hollow

Hollow is the debut album from Hollywood based four piece 'Nick Black'. The band each have a comic book character alter ego based on the four suits in a deck of cards and an image based upon these characters. With a strong visual image in place, along with a firm belief in what they do, the question remains - does the album live up to the promise of the bands striking look?

The album starts with 'It's Over' and the first thing that's instantly noticeable is the production. It sounds great, with a very modern rock sound but there's a slight effect on the vocals, which makes me instantly suspicious and I started to wonder if Nick has a weak voice, and whether or not he'd be able to carry the songs off in the live environment. The song itself; a very good track with hints of the lighter side of Papa Roach about it and an excellent opening track. 'Fall To Pieces' reminds me of Linkin Park during their more melodic moments whilst 'Something Real' could easily fit onto The Exies' Inertia album and is a great song. I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of Kerrang or Metal Hammer pick up on these guys, they have the right balance of image and current sound to satiate the mass appeal of their readership. 'Sorry' is the fastest song on offer and has a big chorus that hooks you in instantly. Next up is 'Barracuda' which while being the heaviest sounding song on the album it's unfortunately also the weakest. By this point the album is beginning to sound the same throughout with not much of a change to the structure of each song to keep the listener interested. 'Beside You' is a modern take on the power ballad which will probably do quite well as a single. There are recycled riffs from the late 80's throughout 'The Reason Why', which will raise a smile for those who remember those times. The final song is the title track 'Hollow' which is an acoustic based track, free from the basic structures of the rest of the album and without a pro-tools sounding influence and sounds so much better for it. It's a very welcome change, sounding fresh in comparison to the rest of the albums second half and is by far the best track on here with vocals that positively soar.

Whilst the album shows an awful lot of promise it does end up feeling like it's just repeating its own formula towards the end before pulling itself back from the brink of boredom with the frankly excellent title track. The band are on tour throughout July and my initial doubts about the strength of Nick's voice on the live stage were shattered by the vocal performance on Hollow, this track makes me believe the band are an excellent live prospect.

by John Baxter

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