The Hollowing (Metal Blade)
by Scott Hefflon
When most bands (or at least the label hacks they inadvertently hire to write their bios) claim that their music is cathartic, a way of coping with life’s pain, a voice raised against the frustration we all feel, that’s usually about the time I reach for a thesaurus to see how many synonyms deep the band dug to come up with their song titles. Anger is as universal a language as happiness, so most bands’ lyrics are the equivalent of a Hallmark card – a trite, generalized, one-size-fits-all approach to describing the fuel of so many fires. Yeah, I think most heavy bands rate their own artistic pain well above the drainage watermark their talent actually merits, and their lyricists should stick to writing juvenile rebel poetry in tattered notebooks and subject only their starry-eyed, strung-out girlfriends to it and leave the rest of us to fester in our own misery, thank you very much. But that’s just me.
Crisis, on the other hand (just above the nicely-healing slash marks), knows how to convey personal torment, actually letting the demons share vocal duties. Musically, the landscapes are dark (naturally) and ravaged, the camera panning slowly at times, exploring minute details, and rapidly fluctuating like a surreal Oliver Stone montage at others. And the contrast is severe – hope smashed by a labored, grueling guitar riff tuned low, a heart-wrenching howl dragged kicking and screaming across a jagged surface by a tightly-coiled power chord. Vocally, Karyn Crisis shreds her innards, creating horrific imagery with tone, texture, timing, as well as with the words themselves. Karyn thinks in terms of visuals instead of words (as displayed in the CD artwork), and the impact is therefore much more physical than most bands can muster. To say Karyn sings like a woman possessed is to give credit to an external source while actually it’s all internal. If she’s possessed, it’s only by tapping into something inside, something which lurks deep inside of all of us, only we’re too afraid to look.