Bask: American Hollow

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Bask: American Hollow
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Bask: American Hollow
Post-Rock, Stoner Rock
The Path Less Traveled Records
September 23rd, 2014
Release length: 40:18
Bandcamp
Facebook

Bask is a four-piece group from Asheville, North Carolina that dabbled in Stoner Rock, Post-Rock, and according to their Facebook page their Americana roots. The band came together around 2013, and since then has been putting time in on stage, performing for a steadily growing fanbase. For 2014, they entered the studio to record six songs that would make up their debut full-length album, American Hollow. Said to contain thundering percussion, loose grooves and scenic songs that conjure spirits of “old country crooners,” Bask make themselves out to be a group that walks the edge of artistic depth and contemporary Hard Rock. But does American Hollow actually stand out, or is all the potential nothing but a marketing ploy?

“High Mountain Pass” starts things off with a mid-tempo Stoner Rock track on par with The Sword and Bison B.C.. While the guitars have a nice bite that is complimented with some enthusiastic clean singing, the song itself still comes off a bit laid back, especially just after the three minute mark where the pace slows greatly to a smoky, dimly lit bar environment. This fades into “American Hollow,” which drops that rather standard Stoner practice for something a little more Post-Rock and atmospheric. The lighter performance matches a haze that paints the picture of green landscapes and seems like something out of a dream until the heavier Progressive Metal conclusion changes all that to a much darker world with a marching rhythm to the drums and clean chords remove those luscious fields, only to be replaced with barren desert as far as your third eye can see. The only problem is it takes forever to really advance, and when it does head off into more Progressive Scale the Summit-esque instrumental terrain, it feels watered down and typical before being shifting suddenly to a very brief Depressive Black Metal assault that seems to come out of nowhere.

“Shake the Soot from Your Boots” is really where American Hollow takes off. It’s an interesting mixture of classic Folk and Country performances laced in a gloomy atmosphere that brings you right to the despair ridden towns of the old west, but with a hint of modern Rock flair thanks ly to the crisp audio quality. It’s a catchy track overall with clean singing that incorporates just enough rugged Blues fuelled emotion to keep the first five minutes highly engaging until the heavier, almost crushing Doom Metal conclusion you easily could feel coming from the very start. “A Man’s Worth” acts as the literal acoustic counterpart, though picking up a stronger electric presence for the guitar solo around four minutes, all of which channelling the ballad prowess and emotion of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man” with ease. “Endless Summer,” however, isn’t quite as strong as those two. The extensive track length and slower pace ends up more something to relax to, maybe with your favorite whisky or bourbon for the first seven minutes, but after that the song takes on a harder tone that has a little more passion to it, but ultimately disrupts the flow by suddenly switching gears to sound more like something Modest Mouse or even Muse might turn out.

American Hollow is an interesting piece that listeners looking for something with a nice array of influence and subtle emotion will greatly appreciate. While it mixes modern Adult Contemporary and Post-Rock ideas, the foundation of this album clearly shows a strong Southern flare incorporated by the band’s roots, bridged together through standard and artistic ideas that move from upbeat to dismal to downright desolate. For a debut outing, Bask have put together an incredibly strong album that is only faulted by some over extended material that can seem to drag on a bit too long thanks to having less behind it to keep the listener engaged enough to not skip back and ahead to the next solid piece. If more of this is what we have to look forward to, Bask will only continue to impress, though hopefully not stray too far from what they have established here.


01. High Mountain Pass – 5:18
02. American Hollow – 5:32
03. Land of the Sky – 8:19
04. Shake the Soot from Your Boots – 5:27
05. A Man’s Worth – 6:47
06. Endless Summer – 8:56
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Bask

Digital review copy of this release provided by The Path Less Travelled Records.