Talons - Hollow Realm (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Hollow Realm (2010)

Big Scary Monsters

Did you know Talons released one of the best albums of 2010? Neither did I, until just now. They're in the post-rock/math rock realm, combining Torche's sludginess and Russian Circles' technicality with Fang Island's insistence on having fun all of the time forever. Hollow Realm is a non-stop party jam, friends.

At 40 minutes, Hollow Realm shouldn't be this fun of an instrumental record. The eight songs are similar in structure, with drums a-bounding and guitars a-blazing. But the songs rock, and they rock thoroughly. "St. Mary Will Be the Death of Us All" opens the record with a stunning display of gravitas and crunch, and things just keep going from there.

Perhaps it's the band's secret ingredient, violinists Reuben Brunt and Sam Little, who sets the group apart from the post-rock pack. Brunt's playing elevates the songs to truly great status. It's an old rock ‘n' roll cliché that strings make songs more epic. They make ballads get ballad-ier; they turn Puff Daddy's "Come with Me" into the greatest song about Godzilla's hatred for hoes. Here, Brunt and Little glide over all of the dissonance with deft hands, lending the songs a certain beauty when needed, like when they contrast with all of the noise that closes out "An Expected Future Event".

Then again, guitarists Sam Jarvis and Oliver Steels provide so much contrast for Brunt and Little to work with. Their guitars serve up crunch and melody in alternate moves. Bassist Chris Hicks and drummer Alex MacDougall give the rhythm section plenty of heaviness. In short, the band locks together to form a powerful force. Hollow Realm is technical enough for metal geeks without overplaying and propulsive enough for casual rock fans. It is, per my analysis, a darn good time.

Hollow Realm's vinyl release was handled by Topshelf Records.