Album Review: Lower Hollow – Bloom & Expire (Mongrel Records)

Bloom & Expire is the debut album from South African post-hardcore/metal band Lower Hollow. Releasing on the 31st March 2023 via Mongrel Records.

Says vocalist Estian Smith:

Bloom and Expire was a way to express what I felt was wrong with my world and life — cathartically projecting much of my negativity and frustration onto paper. The album touches on many themes from the acceptance of our mortality to depression and fractured relationships I believe it is me coming to terms with Life’s fragile and fleeting nature. My only desire is that listeners find some commonality and catharsis in knowing that if they feel anything I’m feeling, they aren’t alone in their anger, frustration, and sadness…I guess the overall message of Bloom and Expire is open to interpretation – As they say, it is what it is.

The South African underground metal scene is constantly proving to be one of the most exciting in the world with a wealth of talented bands from across all genres of metal. Now, along comes Lower Hollow to add even more weight to that claim. Delivering a debut album that is as creative as it is crushing.

A lovely and cinematic intro called Desolate leads wonderfully into the abrasive noise of Vacant Hell. The transition is exceptional and, as it becomes heavier, the heart starts to race and Lower Hollow introduce us all to their frenetic brand of post-hardcore. A massive showcase of what this band is capable of.

Faster and more frantic sounding (the drums leading the tempo), Samsara and Eyes Wide Shut up the mayhem. Both tracks have meatier and nastier edges that make Lower Hollow a band liable to get the head-banging as much as the body circle-pitting. Followed then by the hardcore heavy sound of Noose with a Name, the crunching riff-heavy groove of Living Ghosts, and the frenetic fury of Age of Apathy. Track after track of energised creativity that sets the senses alight.

It’s a return to melody with the touching Waves of Tragedy, the spoken word layered in the background, adding much weight to a short and attention-grabbing listen. Before the mesmerising pairing of I Am Empty and the title track wrap up this stunner of a debut. Lower Hollow exude passion throughout but there’s a stronger sense of just how much effort has been put in with the final pair.

Another brilliant effort coming out of South Africa. Lower Hollow are band to keep a damn close eye on.

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Lower Hollow – Bloom & Expire Track Listing:

1. Desolate
2. Vacant Hell
3. Samsara
4. Eyes Wide Shut
5. Noose with a Name
6. Living Ghosts
7. Age of Apathy
8. Waves of Tragedy
9. I Am Empty
10. Bloom & Expire


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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Lower Hollow – Bloom & Expire (Mongrel Records)
  • The Final Score - 8/10
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