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DROWN (Buy CDs by this artist)
Hold on to the Hollow (Elektra) 1994

The short scoop on this Southern California quartet's freshman effort is Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails fronted by Henry Rollins. Hold on to the Hollow, which was produced by Dave Ogilvie, is so chock full of imitation it should come with a list of ingredients. In fairness, there are some tiny twists. The opening track, "I Owe You," is peppered with just a tad of eastern folk influence; in fact, the song almost works until singer Lauren Boquette abandons his advisedly low-key intro for an unforgivable Rollins-like rant. From there on, the floodgates are open, and the Henry roast begins. "What It Is to Burn" is so miserable that one wishes Boquette would change the song's refrain "I know I wasn't ready" to "I'm a liar" and just get it the hell over with. There's a ray of hope in "Longing," but the slightly engaging piece of ambience is nearly destroyed by Boquette's sloppy, insincere attempt to expose his inner pain. Wipe the singer off "Lost" and emasculate the song's Metallica-like transitional guitar work, and there might be something reparable left. Trash the rest.

[Ian McCaleb]