Little Atlas - Hollow
10T Records
Progressive Rock
10 songs (57:35)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Bar
Archive review

Having recently heard the welcome news that Little Atlas will finally be releasing a collection of new songs later this year, I found myself revisiting their excellent 2007 effort Hollow. It’s a shame to see a band of such talent flying so far under the radar, because over the last 5 years this album has not lessened in impact for me in the slightest. I think that overall, it has even grown on me a little and that’s not bad considering that I already quite liked it at time. On to the music, then.

What I find immediately appealing about Little Atlas is that they have a distinctly contemporary rock sound. That may seem like an observation that’s neither here nor there, but in the modern prog scene it’s actually a surprisingly rare trait. All too many current prog bands try to slavishly emulate the sound of the 70s to such an extent that it would appear as though all the stylistic and technical developments in rock music since that time have no place in prog. Little Atlas were themselves guilty of this at times on their 3 previous full-lengths, but Hollow provides what seems like a conscious shift away from this undesirable characteristic. There are still one or two moments on Hollow that could be said to sound like “retro prog” but in reality these amount to nothing more than some poorly chosen keyboard tones. Other than that, Little Atlas have a sound that belongs in the here and now.

The album gets under way with the title track, which seems a curious choice since the 3 subsequent tracks all overshadow it easily. It’s not a bad track by any stretch of the imagination, but considering the strength of some of the later tracks, I can’t help but feel it isn’t the perfect choice to set the stage. Such concerns are easily forgotten, however, as following immediately is a truly brilliant 10 minute composition called Silence. Beginning with an extended section of atmospheric keyboard, lazy saxophone and melodic vocals, it develops slowly but surely into a monstrous, catchy piece of hard rock and in doing so demonstrates Little Atlas’ greatest strength. They have an ability to expand on ideas and develop songs in a way that feels wholly natural and unforced. Their compositions almost never feel as though they have sections tacked-on for the sake of progressiveness. There is, in fact, only one exception to this on the whole album – a sudden, ill-conceived venture into reggae on Preying. Thankfully it is relatively brief.

The rest of the album treads the line between prog and contemporary rock brilliantly. They have a way of keeping things accessible while incorporating enough genuine surprises in their song writing to ensure that every track is nothing less than interesting. A track like Stage is a perfect showcase for this talent, with its stimulating guitar textures and non-standard chord progressions somehow perfectly complimented by a catchy, hard rocking instrumental section complete with old-school guitar solo. They just make it work. This is an hour that passes very quickly.

Killing Songs :
Silence, Paranoic, Contumacious, Hiding, Stage, Symbiosis
Bar quoted 88 / 100
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