Review: Holly With A Gun – Shadow Parallel

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Actor Alan Rickman once beautifully said, “It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a storyteller.” Within us exists a primal hunger that can only be satisfied by lucratively spun tales, layered with intrigue and emotion from an animated, imaginative storyteller.  Who better to craft such imaginative tales than Holly With A Gun? The 6-piece alternative rock band’s debut EP, Shadow Parallel, is bound to captivate and nourish you with its emotive, well-layered lyrical and instrumental content.

Kicking off the album is “Shoulder Demons”: a catchy, powerful track that is filled with emotion and layered, energetic instrumentals. A tasteful, layered fade-in intro quickly turns to driven chords and riffs backed by beautiful, gentle piano medleys from Keyboardist Dan Carr and relentless, fitting percussive elements from drummer Jacob Grappin. Vocalist Scott Wiley pours out his heart with his lyrical content, stressing dynamic emphasis in his raw, almost Midwestern-emo style of vocal performance. It’s an intriguing, melodic track that will leave your ears begging for more.

Following is “Call Me (When You Need Something)”: a vibrant track that gleams with the grittier side of alternative rock. Vocal and instrumental elements from “Shoulder Demons” bleeds through in the intro before taking a drastic turn towards a harsher vocal delivery and rougher riffs from guitarists Maldonado and Lugowski. Drummer Jacob Grappin showcases a driving delivery of jazz & hardcore-blended percussion that is artfully created to emphasize each emotive element in this track with each hit, crash, kick and roll. This is clearly the album’s stand-out track with a stellar display of well-blended musicality.

The album’s title track, “Shadow Parallel”, is a bouncy, explosive track packed with layered vocals, and angry riffs from guitars and keys. Bassist Ian Marcus shines in this track, with a clearly audible walking bass line that has the perfect balance of force and groove. Wiley’s shifts his vocal delivery from clean-cut to a progressively grittier, harsher, rawer delivery, incorporating mid-screams for the sake of vocal emphasis. Interestingly enough, the instrumentals also grow progressively grittier parallel to Wiley, before the whole track spirals downward into an “organized”, chaotic fade-out.

Vocalist Scott Wiley shows a remarkable amount of talent with his ability to alternate between smooth and grittier styles of vocal delivery, often times blending both for a crisp but raw effect. Moreover, Wiley’s ability to add dynamic emphasis is a refreshing talent that is rarely found within this genre. He even incorporates light mid screams for the tasteful purpose of dramatic emphasis, and it works to the band’s advantage.

Instrumentally, Shadow Parallel has a lot going for it. Not only are Wiley’s vocals on a sliding scale from clean to grit, but the instrumental delivery follows parallel to the vocals.  No instrument overtakes another, despite the multiple layers within each track. But what really stands out is the band’s overall disregard for the popular “verse-chorus” structure, creating in its place a stream-of-conscious-esque form of delivery both lyrically and instrumentally in tracks such as “Shadow Parallel”, “Call Me”, and “Walks Of Life”. Furthermore, they craft an intricate, structured tale with a clear set-up, climax, and conclusion in each track.

Overall, Holly With A Gun has created one of the most entertaining Alternative Rock albums that I have heard in a very long time. You can hear the amount of raw energy and emotion that each of the band members put in to create the collection of stories that makes Shadow Parallel. The stellar blending of instruments and vocals- and their respective styles- paints each scene so vibrant and lively that it nearly takes form on a page. Holly With A Gun’s Shadow Parallel is as much a musical endeavor as it is a timeless story. Listen to it and you’ll know its meaning.(Katt Hass)

9/10

For Fans Of: Saosin, Circa Survive, Acceptance

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