REVIEWS ROUND-UP: ft. Magnolia Park – Atreyu – In This Moment – Hollow Front 



Magnolia Park – Halloween Mixtape II  (Epitaph Records)

Less is more, right? It’s a mantra I’ve often referred to in reviews, even if Yngwie would never agree. Nor, so it seems, would Magnolia Park. Seventeen tracks, nine collabs, six hundred and sixty six musical deviations taking in emo, pop-punk, nu-metal, hip-hop, cartoon horror pop and more is testament to the fact that the quintet may be on to something with their embracing of musical diversity. 


Of the highlights, “Antidote” features Kailee Morgue enhancing a catchy pop-punk burst, “Do Or Die” – a collab with Ethan Ross switches from Magnolia to Linkin Park to great effect, “Animal” (also with Ross) swings heavy and lurching dripping nu-metal grimyness, and “Life In The USA” (feat. TX2), delivers in its straightforward Sum 41 style and clear message.

While “Fell In Love on Halloween” may be a bit saccharine for some, and the “Halloween tips” interludes are a little on the fripperous side, the first is a great segue into the 2000s scarycore of “Haunted House” and “Candles”. The mixtape vibe more than covers off any comments about cohesion, and we’re left celebrating a cornucopia of tricks and treats, and the grab-bowl of musical delights that is Magnolia Park, a cauldron that is most definitely worth sticking your hand in..


Buy the album here:

8 / 10


Atreyu – A Torch In The Dark [EP] (Spinefarm Records)

The third, and final individual part of the metalcore OG’s Atreyu 2023 series of EP’s, A Torch In The Dark sees four more new tracks offered up to complete the selection that will be issued as a more traditional album, The Beautiful Dark of Life. Part one (The Hope of a Spark) focused on the traditional Atreyu metalcore anthem sound, part two (The Moment You Find Your Flame) sat more in the vein of wrestle-rock and radio-metal. 


This third batch of tunes leans in harder to the commercial side, mid-and slower tempo guitars fill out the sound, but more emphasis is on vocals, synths, programming and production elements. While “Come Down” is a touch throwaway with neither the rapped verses or chorus really biting hard, and “Forevermore” a minimalistic emotive synth ballad that doesn’t fully connect, (i) shudders from hooky chorus to a powerful low-slung mid-section and style-wise, along with “Death Or Glory” that features Sierra Deaton and is the strongest of the four offerings, could easily have featured on any of the last couple of Asking Alexandria albums.


Following 2021’s divisive reset Baptize, the five-piece seem determined to redefine themselves post Alex Varkatzas with increasing focus on Brandon Saller’s clean vocals and dialling down the guitars. Seeking to re-establish themselves as a more mainstream entity isn’t beyond them, and taking a chance by unveiling their album in instalments is an interesting move. Whether they have as much about them as the AA’s, Shinedown’s and Disturbed’s et al of our world is to be debated, but A Torch In The Dark is another example that Atreyu are still a worthwhile proposition.

Buy the EP here:

6 / 10 


In This Moment – Godmode (BMG Music)

There’s an outdated saying about old dogs and new tricks that has been proven patronising and insignificant time and time again. Chris Howorth is the latest to dispel this myth, branching out his song-writing skills from six-strings to embrace synths and programming, bringing a darker, industrial nineties Nine Inch Nails inspired bent to In This Moment


Opening up to external writers, pairing with Tyler Bates, and leaning into the talents of producer Kane Churko has also paid dividends, manifesting in “Sacrifice” which works twisted cinematography around a Goth-club electronic motif, and the lurching, effective “Fate Bringer”, while Spencer Chamas of Ice Nine Kills features on effective Hollywood Horror “Damaged”. 

Maybe the pressure being off following Billboard smashings, Grammy nominations, Hollywood soundtrack inclusions has fed in, but this feels like another fine refinement and natural step down the post-Ritual path, with the opening pair of the title-track and “The Purge” setting the scene, Maria Brink’s breathy intonations on the latter further evidence of her chameleonic nature and ability to deliver the exact vocal required, as In This Moment continue to evolve and keep themselves interesting and relevant.

Buy the album here:

7 / 10


Hollow Front – The Fear Of Letting Go (UNFD)

While we (I) may have been a bit harsh with the criticisms of predecessor The Price Of Dreaming, the points were valid: Hollow Front had all the tools, but hadn’t fully forged their own identity. With truth and consequences leading them to stripping down to a duo following dealing with the aftermath of a vehicle accident, it may have been the cataclysmic incident needed to forge the diamond. 


Tyler Tate dual-hatting on both clean and harsher vocals provides consistency and clarity, given precedence and opportunity on “Will I Run”, an earnest and engaging metalcore reflection, to show he can deliver the cleans in style, while Lee Albrecht shows his versatility and dexterity on the guitar, underpinning the building verses with a mix of motifs and rhythmic backing, peeling out riffs. Previous member Dakota Alvarez guests on two tracks, in a cathartic closing of the circle. 


Whilst adversity may not have been the mother of invention, it has been the father of evolution, with Hollow Front letting go of who they were and embracing who they are, finding their space as a sedulous contemporary metalcore entity, able to up the pace (“We’re All Left Suffering”), bring the beatdowns when required – such as the driving Tech chug and stomp of  “Crash & Burn” (feat. JT Cavey Erra / Texas In July), dabble in the discordant “Breaking Teeth” – and now performing equally as effectively in the more reflective spaces. 


Buy the album here:


7 / 10