Scarlet Hollow - What If Never Was

by Dan MacIntosh

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What It Never Was () is Scarlet Hollow's second album, and is one squeaky clean audio product! It was produced by the band's own guitarist, Gregg Olson, who may also have a future career as a producer if the whole band thing doesn't work out. What sticks out most upon initial listening is just how smooth these instruments sound. It may be a rock album, due to the fact that it is built upon standard rock instrumentation, but there is nothing at all rough about it, which means you'll hear no dirty guitars or screamo vocals.

Scarlet Hollow's music falls into the progressive rock/metal genre, but what may be its most progressive element of all is the fact that the singer is a woman. Allison vonBuelow sings and writes lyrics to Scarlet Hollow songs, and also plays acoustic guitars and synths. The irony is not lost, by the way, that a genre with the forward-thinking name of ‘progressive' has so few female musicians, let alone lead vocalists. Perhaps, if Scarlet Hollow achieves widespread success, vonBuelow may inspire more women to enter into this mainly male-dominated style.

Progressive rock lyrics can sometimes veer a little too close to an overly dramatic Dungeons & Dragons game at times, but Scarlet Hollow keeps its songs grounded in reality. Singer vonBuelow has said that many of these songs tell the tale of a person's spiritual and emotional journey as they try to heal from the after effects of war." However, these song lyrics are rarely specific, so they can be interpreted in multiple ways. For instance, a title like Behind the Lines suggests battle associations, particularly when vonBuelow warns, Run, it is not safe here over a lovely acoustic guitar backing. Nevertheless, these words could describe almost any dire situation, from the battlefield to a violent romantic relationship.

Music performed by accomplished musicians, such as Scarlet Hollow, can appeal to diehards of the genre and novices alike because the playing goes beyond the ability to just shred, or ape Deep Purple riffs. Just listen to the pretty piano and jazzy guitar fills that highlight All That Remains. Also, vonBeulow gives one of her prettiest vocal performances on it. The track even includes thunderstorm sound effects, which are applied tastefully so as to not come off like an audio gimmick.

The only criticism that can be leveled at Scarlet Hollow is that a more linear storyline might have made this full-length a little more palatable. Perhaps, had the group realized sooner in the writing process that these songs were starting to form into a concept they could have solidified connections from song to song a little better. However, such issues do not at all take away from the quality of the music. It's difficult not to imagine Scarlet Hollow finding success in the progressive community because these musicians have the chops to make it.


Scarlet Hollow - What If Never Was
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