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(68:59; Melodic Revolution Records)
Back in 2012 Scarlet Hollow were getting prepared to release their debut album. Based around the core of Gregg Olson (electric guitars, synths) and Allison VonBuelow (vocals, acoustic guitars), the band was originally known as Echoes Landing and it was because of them that Nick Katona formed a record label. However, while Scarlet Hollow’s album was in the pressing plant, Olson suffered a devastating stroke which led him unable to play or even hold a guitar, while he also had to learn to walk again. But he refused to quit, and over time he recovered, writing all the time. As the years progressed, he was able to play the music he had in his head, as opposed to having to dumb it down due his condition, so he kept rewriting and changing what was happening. In 2017 a new drummer was found in Jay Setar, and his skills and dynamism led to more changes, with bassist Jeff Mack also re-recording what he had already done. After eight long years the band is back, so what is the new album actually like? Well, I missed out on the debut at the time, only hearing it in 2019, so for me there has not been too much of a gap between the two. In between I have also been fortunate to hear Allison’s amazing solo album (where she is accompanied by both Gregg and Jay), and now we are firmly back in the progressive world. Gregg is a real fan of Jay’s powerful drumming, and one can hear why as he is rarely content to sit quietly at the back but provide fills which lift the music to a new level without ever overpowering it. In Jeff they have a bassist who plays between the drums and guitar, providing counter melodies when the time is right, moving between octaves with ease to provide different dynamics while also happy to sit back. In other words, there is an incredibly strong rhythm section who provide both support and melody, a foundation for the others to strut their stuff. Gregg is often to be found playing melodic leads as opposed to chords, weaving a melodic tapestry which sits against the rest yet also not playing at all at times, allowing the acoustic guitar to take centre stage. Then after all that we have Allison. She is a superb singer, and on this album, she is definitely channelling her inner Lana Lane, being gentle when the need arises, but with a real edge at others. I would love to hear her take on “Symphony of Angels” as I think that would be quite something. But there is no need for cover versions on this album, which is full of light and shade, and powerful songs from the pen of Gregg Olson. With Gregg back to strength, and the band now ready to get out and play, let us only hope this horrible virus allows them to do so in the near future and build the reputation they so richly deserve. Here we have a progressive rock band who have refused to be beaten, and have returned with an album which shows that while it may have taken eight years to come back with the follow up, the experience has only made them stronger and more powerful. For all fans of female fronted heavy melodic prog rock. Superb.
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