Sleepy Hollow - Legend (DPRP Reccomend). . .
The result of all these musicians, all these instruments and all these influences, spread across a two CD set, could easily have been a catastrophic cacophony. Fortunately for us, the record is an ambitious, eclectic masterpiece. Awesome in scope and completely bonkers in places.
I’ve never heard anything quite like it, put it that way and would go so far as to say that it’s a record every truly progressive rock fan should have in their collection. Get a refund on that BigElf record you were (heavily) encouraged to buy by that glossy prog magazine (who just so happen to own the label on which said record is released) and buy this instead. Tell the record store it was an unwanted gift . . . Welcome to independent progressive rock music, 21st century style.
So. Where to begin? It’s a mammoth album, containing over 20 songs, and over 2 hours of music. If your purchasing decisions are based purely on value for money considerations then it’s a no-brainer. It would, however, take a separate review to examine the lyrical complexity on offer. Suffice to say this isn’t a verse-chorus-verse record, and there isn’t a lot of romantic “love” (baby) about the place, but there’s “creeping fog, blood chilling cold”, “disembodied spirits” as well as a “mountain and forest filled with peace”. Center Parcs it ain’t.
What amazes me is that Sleepy Hollow are clearly influenced by so many other classic bands but manage to sound completely and utterly original and “modern”. Progressive, even. Which in the increasingly bland and homogenised commercial world of progressive rock is hugely satisfying to behold.
I can’t, obviously, go into detail on every one of the twenty tracks on offer. The album has taken a great many listenings for me to even try and start to do it justice. And when it’s over two hours long means the female members of the Watson family aren’t overly enamoured of my holing up in the man cave. What I can say is that every song is a standout, in its own particular way, but there are a couple of ‘epics’ that are particularly worthy of mention.
Sorrow’s Might closes disc one, and clocks in around the 13-minute mark. Quiet, contemplative organ and acoustic guitar, harp and oboe are book-ended by heavier, more intense passages.
Hall of Voices ends the record. It’s over eighteen and a half minutes long, length fans. It’s a swirling, improvisational melange of all that’s gone before. And, for you Blue Oyster Cult fans it’s got cowbell. Eastern mysticism meets East Coast acid-trip spiritual psychedelia. Like a soundtrack for a David Lynch movie reinterpreted by a metal jazz-fusion jam band. With the exception of sampled, conversational voices it’s entirely instrumental and includes Ursula’s Nightmare and Bob’s Astral Door. All of Sleepy Hollow’s influences collide and implode but not before bearing witness to beautiful explosions of colour and sound. It’s by no means the best song on the album but boy, has it got (a) soul. And a heart.
And it’s just those attributes that seem to be missing from much ‘modern’ “prog”. If Sleepy Hollow wore silly hats, and make-up, then maybe they’d be famous, and feted by the prog media and heralded as ‘the next big thing’. Until that day, revel in your individualism, and your lawnmower-ness. This is a must buy and one of my top 5 of the year.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
Sleepy Hollow: Reviews
This band hails from New Jersey, USA and were formed in 1999. Since they formed they have released three albums, the last being Legend in 2010. The music can be best described as art rock with some metal influences.
I caught up with Joe Dell for the Sleepy Hollow story.
How was the music scene in your local area when you started ?
It was hard core/punk , we were the only prog band in the area, and we changed things a bit
Over to your three albums..... but let's start with your self titled EP from 2000 first. Please tell us more about this EP.
It was originaly intended for a soundtrack that my friend Erol Kotsev was in. They never used the two too late track, so it became our first release. We were hailed for it's artistic elements and was often told it sounded like 4 different bands. No one has ever done that before or since. I am quite proud of it and my favorite track is Sleepy Hollow, I always felt it showed the story musically and took you there. I believe I helped bring the keyboards back. I have 3 leads and each one is a different root, Destiny (blues), From Above (Jazz), Sleepy Hollow (classical).
Your debut album was Goin' Over from 2004. Please tell us more about this album.
Wow! Goin Over! Ok, it was a very dark time. This was the beginning of the end of the first line-up. Frank was upset that he didn't have full control of the band, Dan was upset he didn't have full control. This was a dark album, compared to the lighter feel of the EP. Dan and Frank would always show up late for rehearsals, so Mole and I wrote the music to the Goin Over epic. It was an idea i had had since the 90's during my Spectrum Green (my first band) days. It is based around a man's journey through drug use. The idea was that each drug was represented by different styles of rock that fit. marijuana (70's prog) acid (60's funk rock) cocaine (80's speed metal), Crack (90's rap metal), heroine (sabbathy riff for the jones part, then Floydish change for the high part). The intro was written by Mole, which signifies the birth. The March was the funeral and then the intro segment reprises at the end in harp form. Which represents the hero making his way into Heaven. The track Bad Reflection includes a keyboard lead played through a voice box pedal, which I believe to be a first. The bonus disc was an idea I had for a "Musie" which would be music and acted out parts. The main character "Tony Peace" was played by a dear friend Tony Desimone. He passed away in 2009 of Hepetitis, due to drug use. The story line was based loosely on events in his and my life. Lenny the Looser was played by Soldier, who has been a hidden member of the band for the past 10 years. He pops up on all our releases since then. He was in Spectrum Green with me. Erol, who was in the movie that was suppose to house 2 too late, played the crack dealer, He is the only professionaly trained actor in the Musie. Nick Otvos played Snow Bob, he was a rodie for the punk band M.O.D. Mark Modine, who played Right arm Ronnie, is related to 2 of the members of the Misfits. The rest of the album were individual tracks. Pay the Price was written by Dan, Under the Ground I wrote with Noodles. 90's Child was co-written by a friend Dom Braico. It was meant as a joke, but the guys in the band really like it so we added it to the album. The intro was very controversial. Mare Crastinum, written by Mole, was my personal favorite. I think the bridge is the best moment on the whole album. I got a kick out of the intro, we used a seagal and it ends up it counts off the intro! LOL the last track was a Parrot written track. Which would be the last ever on a SH album. We never repressed this one and it is an underground classic that actually goes for up to 40 to 50 bucks on E-bay. There was an error in the mix down of Under the Ground. It was suppose to have 2 seperate verses, but they mixed 2 different takes of the second verse.
Your second album was The Lazarus Project from 2008. Please tell us more about this album.
Ah, the Lazarus Project. We hooked up with Bob Both, who is famous for his work with James Brown and is the best engineer on the planet. Our line-up had changed. We had Mike (triple B) Allen on bass and Gary Rinaldi on drums. Mike was the guitarist in Spectrum Green. Gary joined after Noodles left and then rejoined in 2007. We had taken a 1 1/2 break. My father was dying and was caring for him. We were recording for Legend. relized that there was a great metal album hidden in these recordings, so I wanted to put out a teaser album. Each track is an alternate take. Where there would be an artistic segment, Mole and I would play leads. Night Shift Blues, which was a left over from Goin Over is the track that never made it to Legend. It just wouldn't fit musically. Mike Allen only ended up playin on 2 tracks. He didn't know the music yet and we needed tp record the root tracks before Gary moved to California. Unfortuantely Mike passed away due to a drug and alcohol mixture. He sings the lead vocal on this version of Armageddon. I deeply miss him. Which comes to the bonus tracks. They are 6 instrumental versions of Spectrum Green songs. This practice tape was being bootlegged back in the mid 90s and was being played at parties and dorms. I felt it needed to be cleaned up and would make a good addition. That was my roots and I feel, still the best group of musicians I have played with to date. I am also glad people around the world got a taste of Triple B's lead guitar playing. He should have been up there with the greats! Soldier did the into to that section. It as funny. He asked to introduce that segment. I gave him the ok, expecting something like "ok, now you have heard a teaser of the Legend album, now for a bonus treat. here is Joe Dell's first band, Spectrum Green." but Soldier comes in with 2 pages of writing, I was already enjoying my Whiskey, and got up and was like, OH NO! We can't have you talk that long! Not without music! So, I improved some piano in the background for he to read his intro to!
Your third and most recent album is the double album Legend from last year. Please tell us more about this album.
Legend, yes, that was a monster release! Over 2 hours of new music! 20 songs! No band, professional or underground has ever did that! (jam bands don't count). This was origianly suppose to be 2 or 3 albums. Mole and I were an acoustic duo for a stint and we wrote some acoustic pieces. There were some songs from the early days that wer never recorded that we wanted to record. There were some new pieces as well. Bob Both engineers and help produce it and the cover art is by the legendary Ken Kelly. This one I'll cut down to size for you.
Out of the Mist: this was the very first song written for Sleepy Hollow. I pretty much wrote the music and the Queen Wizard wrote the lyrics. She was a band friend and mentor. She was an old hippie and loved our music. Dan originally sang it, so, Mole and I decided to trade off vocals. The intro was originally written for a warlock friend. I think this influenced the Queen Wizard's lyrics.
The Mirror: this is a Mole composition. He wrote this for our acoustic sets. He claims I am the one who changed it to a Jazz piece!
Cousin katie: was written during the Spectrum Green days for my cousin and was resurected for our acoustic set.
The Wanderer: was written during the EP days and changed emensly by the time it became a part of our acoustic set. A Mole comp again. we love the song, so we recorded it. Very boroque with acoustic guitar and pipe organ.
Come With Me Melina: written during the Going Over era. 3 sections, The Seduction, The Chase, The Battle. tells the story of a newly wed couple who moves into a haunted house. The ghost falls in love with the woman and convinces her to kill herself to be with him. The husband finds her dead body and kills himself so he can find her. He and the ghost Alexander battle and he wins her back. The battle is represented by Mole's guitar (husband) my organd (Alexander). My vocals were presented as a haunting voice rather than proper singing which Noodles originally did.
Too Late: written during the Goin Over era. A love song written as a sequal to 2 too late. There is an alternate version with different lyrics as a bonus track on disc 2 of Goin over. It will never be released again. When we remix Goin Over, we are going to put Taciternity Blues as the hidden track. This one was the crowd favorite at our live acoustic shows. The only time Mole and I double vocals on any track.
Nadia's Song: Ah! This is where the Mrs makes her vocal debute! Shes a dear! I am very proud of her. Ok, another one from the acoustic era. Mole would sing the verses and I sang the chorus, but it came out much better this way, plus the lyrics were written intended for a female voice. Musically, I wanted to do something unique. Most bands would take metal songs and slow them down for acoustic versions. I wrote this to be a Heavy Metal song to be played completely acousticly. Gary played some fantastic double kick on this. Still a progressive piece in a small package. Annie presents agressive vocals for the verses and a beautiful chorus vocal. I always wanted a violin lead over the chorus. I could have easily used a sample, but Mole and I are old fashioned and prefer to go organic when possible. Mole was working with a classical orchestra out in Colorado. He invited miss Jennifer Scott to sit in on the track. He sent me the track via internet. I gave it a listen and went, hmmmm ok, then I gave it another listen, and was like, ok. Then I decided to listen to the whole song in context. By the time I gave it that listen, I was in tears. I called Mole and told him, have her record it proper and dont let her change a thing!
Soldiers Lament: Ah! Mole, Bob and myself at our best. This was written during the acoustic days. I remember Bob having a heart attack when Mole showed up with like 10 medieval instruments! LOL I had an idea for the middle 8. The song lyrically is about the distain of a soldier who has to kill a person he never met. I told Mole, we should have a battle between acoustic and electric instruments. So Mole and I wrote the sections. The electric were channeled right and acoustic left. then the build up to the big explosion, where all the sounds are intruments. It took Bob 3 hours to mix that 10 seconds of music. Again! a Sleepy Hollow first!
Butterfly Queen: written during the acoustic era. I wrote it for a dear friend of mine Sunshine. The original demo version was of Mole and I singing it, but our friend said it sounded like 2 drunk Irishmen sing at a bar! LOL So Mole got the lovely young Christina Kirk to sing on it. She was in his renaissence band Sarabande.
Sorrow's Might: Ah! The masterpiece of the first disc! Mole's new composition! He took and old Swedish folk song and turned it into a prog masterpiece!!!! I call this the defining Sleepy Hollow song! I love it! The way is sounds, the progression, everything!!!!! The first section is a very heavy section, I actually play a Joey DeMaio, Dawk customized bass here. I had to play most of the bass parts after the passing of Triple B. There are male & female trade of sections. Mole handles the male and the female is a duet of Annie and Christina. The next section breaks down to acoustic guitar and light organ. Then it is bridged by an oboe solo over harp. Now, that is a sample I played, no oboe players to be found. I feel it was a very beautiful section. Then a reprise of the band, which builds up very powerful. Then the final section is an upbeat, driving section. I am very proud of my organ lead here. It took me a couple of hours to lay down. I make it a point of saying, it aint easy! Most of my leads are in 1 to 3 takes. This one was tricky! It isn't in a key. People get very impressed by viruoso leads and such that are fast, but that is easy over a root 4, 5 progression. Then the vocals come in once again to end the song. over 13 minutes and a masterpiece!
Farewell to Wilderness: Another composition written during the EP era. I believe Mole and I wrote the music and Queen Wizard wrote the lyrics. Originally sung by Dan, Mole took over. This starts of the heavy disc. One of the 2 Triple B bass tracks. He was phenominal at guitar, bass or lead! Triple B and I had a magic when we played together. Bob stated that Mole's rhythm here was his favorite. I laid down 2 keyboard leads, allah Randy Rhoads. The first is a VK7 ran through a crybaby and mini Fender amp. The next is a Univox synth. Bob obtained this as payment back in the 70's, I think would have rather had the money though.
Armageddon: this track is a Part 2 to Farewell. The only other Triple B track. again, wonderful bass playing. This was writtem druing the EP era, but, Mole arranged a diffferent end section that builds up, which is much more climactic than the original. I wrote the music for this one and Mole wrote the lyrics. I feel that Mole's best lead on the album is on this track. The lead breaks were played By Tom Catuosco of Vengeful Few. He was the second lead guitarist in Spectrum Green.
Unselfconscious: Written during the EP era. I believe to be my best vocals on the album. Bob helped me through vocally. Very challenging. It is a our build up song. The first section is acoustic, the second is joined by sampled orchastration I laid down. after the bridge, joined by electric instruments, then the end section, very heavy. Soldier pops in on the Joey DeMaio bass to emphesize the heavy. We get a special Bob Both guitar lead here!
Joan: a classical piano piece I wrote in memory of my mother. I wanted to introduce her through music.
Trouble Times: written during the EP era. Originaly titled Unity. Mole felt Fank's origianl lyrics were an atrocity, especially seeing he jumped ship to start a project where he sang and played guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. Mole wrote a new "heavy" middle section where disturbing new reports appear over the first section, then bridged by keyboard harmonies, then haunting song section. Mole took over Frank's vocal duties here. Tony Renda lends a hand here playing the bridge bass for the middle section. I couldn't handle it, my bass chops aren't that advanced.
For the World Is Hollow (and I have touched the sky): Yes, this one is for the Trekkies! Influenced by the Star Trek episode and a date gone bad! It was written during the Goin Over era. Heavy blues based riff that leads into a classical based ending, a medieval style chorus. Mole feels this song came out the best, sound and he like my vocals! He plays wonderful lead breaks and the end has a classic Mole/Bop lead section. I think the flute reprise is genius! Go Mole!
La Femme Arme: Ah! another fantastic Mole comp! Featuring another of the lovely women he played with in Sarabande, miss Anna LaBella. Very progressive!! can't even put into words! Gotta hear!
I'm Insane: this one was written during the acoustic era, sorta. I wrote it while mixing down Goin Over, which was driving me crazy! This one is for the roots prog people. acoustic piano and acoustic guitar and a touch of mellotron.
Aristotle's lantern: Yes, Mole is at it again! I believe Mole wrote this pre Sleepy Hollow and scared the original line-up when he introduced it to them. I love this track! SOOOOO prog! Erie intro with flute and dissenent piano. Then breaks into an odd timing verse section. Then bridged by a jig, back to the odd timing section. Then a guitar break, followed by the VERY FIRST rock cannon. Guitar, bass, pipe organ & synth. Then the end section. a prog masterpiece!
Hall of Voices (including Ursula's Nightmare) Ok, this is the one you want playing when you are peaking! This is the newest track on the album, Composed by Mole, C, Bob and myself. It started off as an experimental piece. Actually I rolled an 8th doob. We all smoked, accept Mole, who abtained a wonderful contact! Now, Bob is very professional. He never smokes before or during a session. But, I made a particular request. It was the Jack Herrera! We were freakin rocked! We laid down around 14 minutes of avangarde music. This was Ursula's Nightmare. I had an idea for Hall of Voices. I wanted a track of people speaking in different languages, telling odd stories and such. Now, Mole suggested that we mix the tracks, sorta like on Goin Over's Musie section. Genius! Now, Bob and I had to sit down and pains takingly work out were. We flipped the first section to the end and BINGO! Magic! Mixed is the footsteps of a person walking down the hall. The listener hears the talking in a left or right channel, then it is panned center as if the listener has turned facing the person talking. The first is the story of an Iraq soldier. The second is in Italian about a feast in Italy. The third is a black man telling a street gang story, the forth is in spanish, a women telling a romantic story (is is actually Soldier's girlfriend Tehe), The fifth is in arabic about the land of the pharohs.
The album took 3 1/2 years to record, mix and release!
For those of us unknown with your music; how would you describe you music and which bands would you compare yourself with ?
Well, we created a new genre Progressive Acid Metal. Nobody and everybody! We can not be pigeon holed. We are the most diverse band in the history of rock. You can find everything from Tull, to Purple, to Genesis, to Floyd, Sabbath, Rush, Misfits, Iced Earth, Metallica, Rainbow, Beatles, Eloy, Yes, Guns n Roses, Tori Amos, ELP, King Crimson, Marillion, Iron Maiden etc. But nothing of ours sounds like any of that at all. Very original!
What is your current status and plans for this year and beyond ?
Well, we are in another hiatus. I was in a near fatal car accident on March 27th of this year. My C2 neck bone was broken. I could have dies or been paralized, but thanks be to God I am still here! My hands were damaged. I need to heal and it will take time. I was in a halo vest, which is drilled into the skull, but now I am in a collar and healing well. When I am healed we are going into the studio to record our next album. We have written some material already and will finish of in the studio. We will be working with Bob Both again. I am very excited to annouce for the first time here. Mr Pat Gesualdo will be on the drum! yes famous for the D.A.D. program. He is a true virtuoso and dear friend. The next album will be another Sleepy Hollow masterpiece.
To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview ?
Yes, first off, thank you so much for this opportunity to share our music and history there of. This band has been through its trials and tribulations. I feel that the holes of uniqueness are becoming smaller and smaller through time. I feel that we found one and created Sleepy Hollow, we break boundaries most would never even discover. Our write ups have stated such thing as we cover 40 years of rock music on one album. We stand alone musically. We are a lost art form etc. I would like to say, come on by the web site and have a listen and discover something new and different. Thank you so much and God bless
For their 10-year anniversary, Sleepy Hollow releases an album gathering songs spanning from their formative years to new material improvised in the studio. Throughout the span of this double album, Joe Dell, Matt Schwartz and Gary Rinaldi sends us through jazz, folk, medieval, classical, prog rock, metal, psychedelia,blues,,…All of this is paired up with some ‘we have here music that demands creativity’ from the listener. That means that you need to give this a dedicated listen to really appreciate it.
Acoustic, classical and electric guitars, drums, piano, organs and bass are present throughout, but flute, folk harp, harpsichord, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, violin, and who-knows-what-else drift in and out each adding their own flavours and nuances. The music, therefore, is both strangely familiar, yet undeniably inventive, a good blend of instrumental and female/male vocal segments that are densely layered. There are moments of fiery guitar and powerful metal rhythms alternated with introspective cinematic atmospherics and idyllic classical piano, dark melodies. This is very unique, with wide-ranging influences, all served up in an inventive mix of moods and styles that pleases on many levels. Yeah, sure there's a couple of tracks that didn't quite hit the mark but then most double albums (20 tracks) ever written are like that so it's a pretty shallow criticism.
It’s a challenge to absorb and fully understand Sleepy Hollow’s brand of progressive acid metal music that will be appreciated by fans of Jethro Tull, Yes, Iron Maiden, Aphrodite’s Child, VanderGraaf Generator, Marillion, King Crimson, ELP, Pavlov’s Dog, Manilla Road, Orne, Genesis, BigElf, Phideaux, Ayreon, Bo Hansson,… It will not be to everyone's liking but if you have the concentration and dedication to sit down and listen you will find a highly enjoyable album here.
Several years in the making, "Legend" is without a doubt Sleepy Hollow`s most ambitious, fully realized album, the culmination of an 11 year career filled with equal highs and lows. Fortunately, the 2-CD set is also their very best! As I`ve been fortunate enough to have followed the band from nearly the beginning, I am totally confident in making that statement, so there!;) "Legend" distills all that makes this band one of THE most unique acts in their field. Multi-musicians Joe Dell, Matt Schwarz and Gary Rinaldi have crafted 20 tracks of that mix early Prog ["Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"-Genesis, classic Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Pink Floyd], Bluesy Heavy Rock and at times Speed/Power Metal, all of which forms the musical entity known as Sleepy Hollow. Some bands of this type like to think that their music has the power to blow peoples` minds; if that`s the case, then Sleepy Hollow`s music is for AFTER your mind is blown. Hardly druggie mood music, [though I suppose it COULD be utilized for such purposes] the music contained here is too well crafted, well thought out and well played to be merely background noise. It has an "after Midnight" feel to it. One gets the impression that there isn`t anything on the album that SHOULDN`T be there, each and every note has a point for existing where it is, every single musical idea presented here has a purpose. Yet despite its` vast size and scope, the music on "Legend" is definitely a pleasure to listen to; there aren`t any points where you`re made to feel uncomfotable, no pointless forays into any harsh, "Industrial" stylings. Jimi Hendrix once remarked that his ultimate goal was to create music that would get inside the soul of the listener, a music he referred to as "Sky Church". I`ll go so far as to say that Sleepy Hollow has come closer than most to accomplishing this. But there`s definitely a light heartedness to Sleepy Hollow`s approach; one never gets the impression that these guys are SO serious that they forget why they do what they do, a common pitfall of many an artist. Top it all off with a cool cover by Ken Kelly and you`ve got one stunning aural/visual package! A band like Sleepy Hollow, who put in so much time, effort AND money into such a mammoth undertaking, DEFINITELY deserves a larger audience, and we can make that happen; in other words, BUY THE ALBUM!!!! [To Joe, Matt & Gary; thanks so much yet again for the album, and for allowing me to come along on your continuing musical journey!!]
This ambitious double album by New Jersey group Sleepy Hollow was 10 years in progress - a raw, sprawling nod to the classic prog-rock traditions of Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Genesis, etc. Leading the 20-track parade are Joe Dell (keyboards, bass, samples, voice) and Matt Schwarz (guitars, bass, flute, harp, dulcimer, voice), with Gary Rinaldi on drums. Others contributed on vocals, bass, violin, and flute.
Classic earmarks abound: galloping Hammond and rockin' guitar, gentle acoustic interludes, frequent meter shifts and counterpoint, epic compositions and indulgent instrumental passages. . . . arranging emerges as Sleepy Hollow's strong suit: Dell and Schwarz do an excellent job of changing things up between and within tracks to seamlessly blend contrasting elements . . . Legend has plenty of fun, rollicking moments to feed the proggy beast within.
Du haut de ses 10 ans d'âge, Sleepy Hollow, combo originaire du New Jersey mené aujourd'hui par le duo Joe Dell / Matt Schwarz, nous envoie ce double album, baptisé Legend - probablement en référence à la nouvelle de Washington Irving, la Légende de l'Homme sans Tête (nous vous laissons lire la biographie interminable de nos deux lascars sur le site du groupe) -, sorte d'O.M.N.I. de plus de deux heures. Accrochez vos ceintures pour ce voyage sans retour garanti. Compilant des titres écrits durant la dernière décennie au cours de l'histoire pleine de rebondissement du groupe, avec d'autres titres improvisés en studio, Legend est le genre de galette qui va ravir… ou faire fuir, mais qui dans tous les cas ne laissera personne indifférent.
Comme toute chronique qui se respecte, il est bien entendu question d'influences, histoire de tenter de situer le style d'un groupe probablement inconnu pour la plupart d'entre nous. Out Of The Mist nous donnerait-il quelque indication ? Deep Purple et ses claviers furieux façon Jon Lord… mais aussi Jethro Tull pour le côté folk ? Continuons un peu plus avant notre voyage et abordons les rivages musicaux fréquentés par, en vrac, Iron Maiden (Armageddon), Uriah Heep, ou pour des éléments plus récents, Black Bonzo et son côté sombre. Du progressif, du hard-rock, un peu de folk mais aussi des thèmes classiques (Joan), le tout dominé par des claviers, ou plutôt des orgues aussi bien Hammond que d'église, sur lesquels viennent se poser les guitares crasses de Matt Schwarz. La qualité de restitution n'est pas la préoccupation principale de nos artistes, de même que la dextérité (ah, les notes "bouffées" dans les soli de guitare) ou encore la justesse du chant. L'ensemble sonne très 70's, et nous sommes bien loin de la qualité clinique des productions actuelles. Du coup, il sera nécessaire de bien tendre l'oreille pour apprécier les interventions de harpe ou de violon, bien présentes mais quelque peu noyées sous le déluge sonore.
Quant aux différents thèmes musicaux, ils peuvent être tronqués, ou encore répétés à l'infini ou presque (Le lancinant The Wanderer et ses 10 minutes lancinantes ou encore Sorrow's Night et son chant lourdingue), ou alors se retrouver subitement coupés par des chorus instrumentaux furieux et magnifiques (The Soldier's Lament) dont on finit par regretter leur trop courte durée.
Bizarrement, malgré la diversité des styles abordés et les conditions de regroupement des différents titres au sein d'une même œuvre, ce double-album (à l'exception de la dernière plage, sorte d'improvisation "Ummagummesque") pourrait presque être assimilé à un opéra-rock. Passées les deux ou trois premières écoutes, l'ensemble finit par proposer une cohérence tout à fait inattendue, où le côté sombre est bien entendu prédominant, sorte de bande originale d'un film d'horreur que l'on porterait sur les planches. En tout cas, le dépaysement est garanti.
Garantissant de nombreuses heures d'écoutes, et à condition de ne pas être rebuté par la densité de l'ensemble, Legend vous guidera tout droit dans un voyage musical de 4 décennies… vers le passé, tentant de redonner ses lettres de noblesse à l'ambiance musicale de l'époque. La longueur de ce double-album est une de ses qualités, mais également son principal défaut. L'auditeur curieux saura s'en affranchir, n'en doutons-pas.
Sleepy Hollow-"The Lazarus Project"-2009
After a looooonnng 5 year wait, Sleepy Hollow returns with "The Lazarus Project", 9 distinct songs in that classic `Hollow style! "The Lazarus Project" is in fact something of a prologue to their upcoming 2-CD set "Legend", featuring alternate versions of the heavier cuts from "Legend". Well, if the tracks found here are "alternate versions", I can`t WAIT to hear the upcoming release! Since the release of their self-titled EP in 2000, it has been my good fortune to watch the bands` musical growth. From the EP to the highly ambitious "Goin` Over" to the present, Sleepy Hollow`s music has developed by leaps and bonds, as clearly heard on the latest CD. I would say the new material is reminiscent of the EP in both sound and mood. "Goin` Over" was a band in transition personnel-wise; "The Lazarus Project" features a more stable line-up, which probably gives the tracks a more cohesive feel. At first blush, one could describe the Sleep Hollow sound as a cross between Iron Maiden, Colosseum II and Jethro Tull, but that would be oversimplifying things. The band has the uncanny ability to take from various current styles [Power Metal, Death Metal, Scandinavian Black Metal] and assimilate them into their own blend of `70s` keyboards and `80s` guitars. It`s hard to spot the bands` influences, though they ARE there. Hardly a "singles" band, Sleepy Hollow has crafted an album that is best listened to from start to finish, though each song can certainly stand on it`s own. As always, the haunting keyboard work of Joe Dell and Matt Schwartz` flashy guitar playing give the band it`s distinctive sound. All in all, "The Lazarus Project" is yet ANOTHER career highlight from one of the most original bands out there. There`s even a nice little bonus; 6 tracks from a 1996 practice tape recorded by Spectrum Green, which was keyboardist Joe Dell's first band. Spectrum Green`s embryonic style was not too far off from Sleepy Hollow`s, and listening to these tapes gives you a good idea of where Sleepy Hollow came from, and where they are going. And we know where YOU`RE going, don`t we? You`re gonna go to the bands` website and buy this CD, right? Right! One of the years BEST! [And yet again, a thousands thanks to Joe Dell for sending me the review copy!!!
METAL TO INFINITY
I've talked two times before about this band before. I remember I wasn't that positive about these guys, especially because I didn't find any red lines into their music. I admit I wasn't really that interested in this CD. Nevertheless I wanted to give these guys a fair chance and to be honest I'm glad I did! Not that this is a world shocking CD but if you're into Seventies and early Eighties Metal you should try this one out!
Sleepy Hollow is still an obscure band but I hear some important changes right here. First of all the songs in general are more pleasurable, call it more enjoyable. This sounds really 'retro' and the beginning of the first song reminds me to the early Hard Rock and Heavy Metal era. Yes, the darkness is overall present and the arrangements breathes pure obscurity! What the hell happened with this band? Should I try these other CD's again? I will at least try them...
What I do like is the sound of the guitars, the way the organ and synthesizers are weaved into the songs, the way the percussion is played. Also the vocals are good; clear and strong but also intense and mysterious. Yes, the compositions are great and the way these guys are bringing you back to the early days of Metal is incredible! Mix a bit of the old Black Sabbath with Deep Purple, Pavlov's Dog, old Manilla Road and even Cirith Ungol! I even noticed that Sleepy Hollow is theatrical, sensitive or touchy... even epic!
This is a kind of music you need to love. If you're not into the bands I've mentioned you'd better save your money for other releases. I suppose most youngsters will dislike this old sounding kind of Metal but I'm quite sure the oldies amongst us will adore it. I'm even sure that this release will bring old memories back of those mighty eighties. It was a dark period, with dark music in dark pubs... It is a period I want to relive, only if I could... A good album. Check http://www.sleepyhollowband.com My Points: 84/100 (Review by Officer Nice)
Sleepy Hollow-"Goin Over"-2004/Matt Schwarz-"The Lost Way"-2004
New Jersey`s very own Sleepy Hollow returns with their first full-length album "Goin` Over". A little heavier than the "Soundwell" EP of 2001, "Goin` Over" features the same line-up as the EP; Dan Castiel on bass/vocals, Joe Dell on keys/vocals, Frank Melick on drums/vocals and Matt Schwarz, guitars, vocals, flute and harp. [Melick and Castiel have since departed.] Like their last recording, Sleepy Hollow`s sound can best be described as a clever mix of `70`s Prog Rock [think mid-period Genesis, early Kansas and esp. Jethro Tull] and early `eighties Hard Rock/Metal. There are 6 tracks here, starting off with 20-minute title epic. Brilliantly conceived and executed, the song consists of 8 sections, each depicting [in the band`s own words] "a step in a young man´s descent into heavier drugs and death with a different style of music - Renaissance, classic hard rock, funk, speed metal, rap metal, prog-metal, 70's mellow prog, a cathartic guitar solo, and the sounds of a harp as our hero´s soul ascends to heaven." Whew! This masterpiece could well be the band`s own "Supper`s Ready"; each passage segues flawlessly into the next, bringing the tragic tale vividly to life. Now THIS is what the Prog-Rock genre USED to be! The remaining 5 songs continue mining the same creative vein. "Pay the Price" is a fist-pumping Hard Rocker while "Under the Ground", is a heavy Doom affair dealing with being buried alive. [!] "90's Child" is a clever, catchy tune about the aforementioned decade`s whiney offspring. The highly inventive "Mare Crastinum" [written by Schwarz] is next, followed by the Deep Purple-ish old school anthem "Rock Hard", which does indeed! Also included is a bonus disc with acted, spoken parts added to the "Goin´ Over", giving the intriguing story more clarity, not that it`s really needed; just a nice little bonus... With this album, Sleepy Hollow raises the bar not only for themselves, but for other artists in the genre. But the band`s ability to top themselves is what sets them apart from "the rest". Now will someone please tell me WHY, with all the talent and vision they possess, this band are laboring in the shadows while those with FAR less talent and ability get the money and praise?! Let`s try to change that, shall we? Go to their official site and buy the album, turn off the lights, kick back and CRANK this baby! While you`re at it, check out Matt´s all acoustic, folk CD "The Lost Way", which features Matt`s original compositions as well as traditional songs ["Lord Lovell" and "Scarborough Faire", among others] all played with a British/Celtic/Renaissance sound. While not Metal or even Rock, it`s a great album that gives you an idea where Matt`s coming from musically. The perfect album to get you in that Renaissance Faire kinda mood, and I can`t thank Matt enough for kindly including this along with my order! Highest possible recommendation for both discs!!!
Matt Schwarz - 2003 - "The Lost Way"
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, one of the two primary songsmiths for the US outfit Sleepy Hollow, Matt Schwarz has one album released under his own name. Titled "The Lost Way", it contains eleven tracks (ranging from 2 to 8 minutes), all being the musician's original compositions. On most of them their creator is featured solo, playing acoustic guitar, flute, harp, dulcimer and mandolin, though it is the former two instruments that are usually in the arrangement, apart from Matt's singing. Three of the tunes also feature a guest cello player, and two others are sung by a different vocalist, but these are just details which have no influence on the album's overall picture. All the songs without exception have a strong minstrel feeling, showing their maker as a modern-day troubadour, who is additionally well familiar with basic progressive rock doctrines. This heartfelt, inspired, original music (only Jethro Tull can serve as a reference point here) is aimed at lovers of acoustic Progressive and should satisfy all of them, save probably only those into classically inspired or avant-garde Chamber Rock.
VM: June 11, 2007
SLEEPY HOLLOW - GOING OVER
METAL TO INFINITY
Sleepy Hollow is, as I've told before, a strange band from New Jersey. They are writing some kind of odd music influenced by ancient elements that gives their music an epical touch. Next to the EP they also released this ''Going Over''. I received a double CD from which I don't actually know what I have to say about the 'Interstate' disc.
This Rock Opera takes off with an instrumental intro, followed by a guitar solo that seems to communicate with an organ. The guitar sound sounds very retro and the use of the organ is giving me the same feeling. This concept CD is telling a story about a drug addict, using the music to tell more about the drugs. Constantly I have the feeling of listening to some kind of hippie music, late sixties or early seventies music. Of course drugs were related with this subculture, as it also is in this story. Based on the old Deep Purple and Jethro Tull, Sleepy Hollow delivers Hard Rocking music on their own specific, bizarre way. I can't say these guys aren't gifted or talented, the opposite is true. All members are singing and the band uses several a-typical instruments. On the other hand I have to admit this isn't my cup of tea. No matter how much respect I have for these guys as musicians I can't say the music pleased me for one second.
I do believe Sleepy Hollow is standing still in an era that is forgotten by the most of us. Metal Heads are mostly looking to the eighties if we talk about the roots of Heavy Metal, this is far beyond. The truth really is that Metal was formed many years before, in a time when Deep Purple and Black Sabbath just began to write the history of our genre. Nevertheless I don't feel the need to go back into those ancient times and that is what Sleepy Hollow is doing with me. Let this be music for the elder amongst us. Difficult CD to rate... My Points: 70/100 (review by Officer Nice)
SLEEPY HOLLOW - SLEEPY HOLLOW
METAL TO INFINITY
No, this ain't the band with Bob Mitchell (Attacker) on vocals! As often a band is using a name that was already used before but let's not consider this as a major problem. Nevertheless also Sleepy Hollow was formed in New Jersey, the home of Attacker.
Matt Schwarz seems to be the main song writer of the band. He chose to write some very bizarre kind of Rock music, something like - Metal is meeting some kind of seventies Rock band... This man is a musician 'pur sang'. Next to the electric guitars he uses, or let use, non traditional instruments like the flute or a saxophone. Of course it is giving the tracks a special retro sound and a weird atmosphere. I never had the feeling to listen to a CD from the year 2000.
Mister Schwarz found some equal artists to write and perform the songs and to be honest all are amazingly good in playing their instruments. Each song was sang by another member and all are delivering that typical seventies sound. Especially with 'From Above' it feels like you're listening to the very old Deep Purple. To be honest I'm too young for being a fan of that era, except for the most famous tracks like 'Smoke On The Water' and 'Child In Time'. But yes, Sleepy Hollow contains four first class musicians with own ideas, original song writing and outstanding musical structures. I can't say I have been bored for a second, too much is to discover on this EP. On the other hand I can't say Sleepy Hollow took me by the throat with these tracks, more songs would have been too much to handle.
Fans of alternative or even Progressive Rock music, mixed with a bit of retro sounding Metal and a seventies 'Jesus Christ Superstar' sound will be amazed by Sleepy Hollow. MY POINTS: 70/100 (review by Officer Nice)
Sleepy Hollow EP review:
This four-song EP could easily have been recorded in the early 1970's as opposed to the new millenium. Many progressive touchstones are here, from pseudo folk-driven pieces to semi-classical compositions embellished with dramatic dialogue.
"Destiny" is a tune that could have come from the Kansas songbook. It features a straight-ahead rock groove fostered by strong lead vocals from bassist Dan Castiel. A cool mid-tempo organ solo by Joe Dell surfaces and is complemented by hot lead guitar at the end.
"Two Too Late" showcases Dell's mellow lead vocals. With a mix of acoustic renaissance and classical influence the woodwind contributions of Matt Schwarz on flute and Dan Castiel on saxophone are exquisite.
"From Above" sounds like it could have been taken from Deep Purple's Burn album, with its driving groove and cooking organ.
"Sleepy Hollow" closes the disc with guitarist Matt Schwarz recounting said tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. With an over-the-top vocal performance that borders on camp, Schwarz valiantly guides this mini-epic through pseudo-classical and near-metal waters.
Analysis. The album is made up of thirteen tracks, the first eight of which are subsumed to a unified lyrical design and are united under the title of Going Over, the entire thing (I don't think the concept of a suite is applicable in this particular case) exceeding 19 minutes in duration. The first and the last part of the heading composition, Broken Water and Broken Wings, are the only instrumentals on the entire CD, the former being my favorite track despite its shortness. This is a beautiful, touching, dramatic interplay between acoustic guitar, flute and boparina evolving to the accompaniment of gently marching drums with an amazing sense of Renaissance music widespread throughout. Broken Wings is just a harp reprise of Broken Water. Unfortunately, the flute and harp are absent on the other tracks, and only one of them, Mare Crastinum, features acoustic guitar as one of the primary soloing instruments. The music is the interchange of organ- and acoustic guitar-laden softer arrangements and those based on the crunchy electric guitar riffs with quite unexpected theatric vocals. Inasmuch as all the band members combine their duties as instrumentalists with those of singers, I don't know which of them takes the lead on Mare Crastinum, but I'd rather he'd sung everywhere on the album. By the way, all four of the musicians alternate each other behind the microphone on Rock Hard, which concludes the CD. Almost in everything - from the guitar riff construction to the distinctive 'barking' chorus - it reminds me of AC/DC with organ. Very primitive and tasteless alike. Collapse and Farewell to a Friend are better and are structurally closer to Mare Crastinum. All the so-far-unnamed songs are basically harsh and heavy nearly throughout, the organ in most cases being the only instrument providing the music with genuine diversity, although three of them, Bad Reflection, Blast Off and Pay the Price, contain either very few keyboard patterns or none, referring to early Heavy Metal (think Judas Priest circa "Sin After Sin"). The other four are more colorful - an understatement. Seedy Sales, F.A.T. and 90's Child are vintage organ-driven Hard Rock much in the vein of Deep Purple, except for the vocals, which are quite inexpressive. On Under the Ground, the band enters an area of dark symphonic Doom Metal rooted in early Black Sabbath ("Vol. 4"), although the presence of raw, at times sinister vocals suggests some names of later proponents of this style, such as Tiamat or Paradise Lost. "Going Over" comes with a bonus disc, which includes a "movie version" of the eponymous 'suite' where there is nothing new but the spoken dialogs etc verbalisms.
Conclusion. There is not too much on "Going Over" to afford you aesthetic pleasure if you're a progressive music lover, while those exclusively into proto-progressive Hard Rock and Heavy Metal might find the CD worth a listen in its entirety.
Sleepy Hollow - Goin' Over review:
Sleepy Hollow are a quartet from New Jersey, at least they were a quartet! Since the release of debut album Goin' Over, drummer Fran Melick and bassist Frank Castiel have fled the coup, leaving organist (and producer) Joe Dell and guitarist, flautist and harp player Matt Schwarz to continue flying the Sleepy Hollow flag. Originally formed in the tail end of 1999, the group wasted no time in writing over a dozen tracks which, supplemented by a few choice cover versions, enabled they to play two-hour plus sets to growing numbers of supporters. In 2001 the band released an eclectic four song EP with each member of the band singing lead vocals on one track.
The diverse nature of the EP has followed through onto the album, which takes as its blueprint a heavy rock album and then mixes in elements of prog, metal, funk and even more pastoral acoustic folk music. The mainstay of the album is the title track, present in two forms. The first is the pure 20-minute musical version, split into eight distinct (and I mean distinct!) sections while the second, included as a bonus disc, has an extra 17 minutes of added dialogue that drives the narrative of the story along and tells in graphic detail the spiralling descent of a young man into drug addiction. Broken Water, an acoustic, almost medieval, flute and guitar piece opens the story before an organ and electric guitar take over on Seedy Sale providing a classic 70s rock accompaniment to the first introduction to drugs with the smoking of a joint. As the scene shifts to a dance club the music becomes a little funkier with F.A.T. where the protagonist is introduced to LSD. From there the only way is down with Bad Reflection taking on the faster pseudo thrash metal of a cocaine rush, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers-like funk metal of Blast Off representing experimentation with crack before the nadir is reached in Collapse which musically charts the transition from the harsh and energetic rush of the crack to the coming down and mellowing out of a first heroin hit which inevitably leads to death and burial (Farewell To A Friend). Final section, Broken Wings is a brief reprise of Broken Water only this time played on a harp (angel's wings and fluffy clouds etc!).
An ambitious undertaking and a clever idea to represent each step in the pharmaceutical 'exploration' by a different style of music, but I am not too sure it hangs together too well in the purely musical form. The 'screenplay' version may have the edge as the dialogue adds another dimension, although with as much talking as music, one probably wouldn't want to play it too often.
The rest of the album comprises five songs that are all pretty basic hard rock. The best of the bunch were the two tracks with the more prominent keyboards, namely the more commercial 90's Child and Mare Crastinum which sort of reminds me of The Cardiacs played at half speed! . . .
Sleepy Hollow have made a very brave and bold attempt at producing something different in the rock/metal field. What they do, they do with a fair degree of competence and originality and I am sure they will find an audience. . . .