CD Reviews

The SixxiS - 'Hollow Shrine' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 12, 2015    
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A very decent album.

A new name to me, but this is the band's second release after their 2013 self-titled EP/album. They carry the endorsement of Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic, The Winery Dogs) who invited them aboard the Progressive Nation cruise earlier this year after they'd impressed him supporting TWD in both Europe and the U.S.

Portnoy's a good judge so my expectations were high and I have to say I was not disappointed as I gave the album its first spin; my immediate impression being that while they are rooted in the Prog Metal genre, they've brought something refreshing to the party which lifts them above the "generic". There's light and shade in their music, it's not all pedal to the metal, double bass drum, charge of the light brigade stuff that seems so prevalent these days. The tracks are pleasingly concise and the variety of the material maintains interest throughout.

Musically, opening number 'Dreamers' has a Muse vibe to it but without the annoying vocals, indeed the lead vocals of Vladdy Iskhakov are rather good as are the vocal arrangements in general. There's a break where early Rush comes to mind.

'Long Ago' starts with a Black Sabbath-ish riff before moving into something with a more modern feel. The bridge and chorus are the song's stand-out moments and remind me of bands such as Enchant and Tiles for the melody and structure. 'Nowhere Close' features more fine guitar riffage but the chorus is shouty and rather tuneless and for me is the album's low point.

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'Home Again' on the other hand is a highlight; a little lighter in approach than what has gone before, it's extremely melodic and has a refrain and chorus that works superbly, the guitar solo is meaningful and incisive. 'Forgotten Son' has a hint of DT at its outset thanks to the guitar theme and the track ebbs and flows in fine fashion. Next up is 'Waste Of Time' where they use some interesting time signatures that border on Jazz; a violin solo providing a neat variation.

'Coke Can Steve' is an instrumental with a definite DT vibe while 'Opportune Time' races along on yet more fine riffing; but what do you expect with three guitarists in a band? Once again they deliver a great chorus.

Penultimate track, 'Out Alive' has an equally memorable chorus and more terrific guitar work, the change of pace mid-song is well executed. The closing number, 'Weeping Willow Tree', represents something of a curve ball, but not in a bad way, as it's so different to what has gone before, low slung and Bluegrassy. A fine conclusion to a very decent album.

Gary Marshall

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