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Hollow Haze - "Countdown To Revenge" (CD)

Hollow Haze - "Countdown To Revenge" CD cover image

"Countdown To Revenge" track listing:

1. Room 212
2. Watching in Silence
3. Still Alive
4. No Rest for the Angels
5. Life Has No Meaning
6. We Must Believe
7. The Answer
8. Il Tempo del Fuoco
9. A Fading Angel's Life
10. Countdown to Revenge
11. The Gate to Nowhere...

Reviewed by on September 7, 2013

"Fans of Rhapsody of Fire will find Hollow Haze a bit less over the top and a more straight edge modern style with Lione doing what he always does – making every album better."

Italy’s Hollow Haze has always been a solid power metal act. From the first self-titled release in 2006, the band has had a revolving door of singers: Dan Keying (Cydonia), Ivan Rave (Somniae Status), and Alex Sonato have all taken a turn over the band’s first four releases, culminating in the strongest effort – 2012’s “Poison in Black,” an album that saw an edgier, but no less melodic, modernized style take form. With its longest running vocalist (Sonato on the last two) now out, the band was on the hunt for yet another singer. Enter Fabio Lione… the man who brandishes the finest classical power metal voice of all time. Add to the mix the orchestration from Antarktica’s Nightbreeder & the Wintermoon Orchestra (maker of symphonic, horror and fantasy soundtracks) and instantly anticipation grew for “Countdown to Revenge.” The turnout was another in the ever evolving power metal greatness from a band on the precipice of staking a real claim in scene.

Fans of Rhapsody of Fire will find Hollow Haze a bit less over the top and a more straight edge modern style with Lione doing what he always does – making every album better. The opening intro “Room 212” fades and “Watching in Silence” presents a mid-paced orchestrated number – in the vein of modern MasterPlan – with the Wintermoon Orchestra having an immediate impact that stays throughout the 10 track release. With a great sense of irony, “Still Alive” actually features MasterPlan’s Rick Altzi at the helm, with his smoother and less operatic style nicely juxtaposed to metal’s best tenor.

Hooks abound and "Countdown to Revenge” is by far the band’s most melodious and catchy effort to date. "No Rest for the Angels" rings with a Kamelot feel, "Life Has No Meaning" with its Asian elements, the driving speedy anthem "We Must Believe," and the building rocker "The Answer" are among the best. Lione is divine on the pseudo-power ballad "A Fading Angel’s Life" and the speedier "Il Tempo Del Fuoco." The most complex hymn, in terms of solos, arrangements, and vocal performance is the epic groove laden title track. As a bonus… it includes an appearance by both "black metal Lione" (not seen since Rhapsody of Fire’s "Reign of Terror") and "ultra-Pavarotti Lione."

Production-wise, Hollow Haze has knocked out a perfect sound. The album was mixed expertly by Avantasia producer/guitarist extraordinaire Sascha Paeth. Nick Savio's guitar riffs have a wonderful crispy edge and the orchestrations are not too overwhelming, thus creating the perfect soundscape. As for Fabio, it’s probably best to just refer to what has already been said.

Does "Countdown to Revenge" use any innovative and experimental sounds to lure new fans to cross over with the threat of being branded with the "dreaded power metal stigma"? Probably not. Hollow Haze caters directly to the power metal fan with the progressive crossovers. Lione’s game changing presence is sure to capture a wider fanbase for the band alone. With any luck, he will stick around to claim the title as the longest running Hollow Haze vocalist – it would only take two more releases!

Highs: Catchy, crunchy guitar hooks....and, uh - Fabio!

Lows: In terms of presenting something "new" - nope.

Bottom line: Ingredient for instant success: Add more Fabio!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)