The anxious instrumental frenzy that constitutes the debut album from Hereford-based six-piece Talons is an uneasy listen. Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, perhaps most notably Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, Biffy Clyro and Slipknot, Hollow Realm confidently launches itself at listeners with much enraged determination.
From the word go Hollow Realm is a hectic instrumental affair. On its' opening track, 'St. Mary Will Be The Death Of Us All', pounding drums emerge from a gentle guitar bed and soon the track kicks into a frantic post-rock drive. There's a layer of unusual violin over a wall of guitars, bass and busy drums before the track chops into a metal feel, again with haunting, angsty violin sounding clear in the mix. Picking up pace, the psychotic sonic rollercoaster then snaps into a different feel of interlocking guitars, bass and violins, briefly intercepted by a stop section which resembles Biffy's 'Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies', and again snapping back again. Yes, Talons music really is that frantic, choppy and unsettled; the same is evidenced throughout the entirety of Hollow Realm.
'Peter Pan' starts with the same distorted energetic rampage, briefly hinting at half-time and then anxiously changing back again. The layer of violin throughout gives Talons' blend a Hope Of The States feel, but deep down they're a slightly pretentious and self-indulgent collective of instrumental, progressive post-rockers offering listeners little comfort in their psychotic musical constructions. Talons' experimentation with time, nodding to the intricate math-rock suggested by the likes of Foals, also adds to the anxious feel of the whole offering. Whenever things seem to have calmed down, there's a restless build through an uneasy progression of chords which inevitably crashes back into a strong pounding drive ('In The Shadows Of Our Stilted Homes').
Moments of frantic musical complexity, for example the rhythmic seven beat repetition of plucked violin and drums in 'Iris' are later contrasted with hints of calmer resolutions, however short lived. In the title and concluding track, for example, there are sparse moments and suggestions of a resolution in gentle, beautiful glimpses before an enraged and frantic, appropriate conclusion breaks through ridden with math-rock geekery and the same sustained anxiety.
All in all, intense, anxious and psychotic yet technically solid, Talons rock band plus violin ever-changing instrumental post-rock blend is challenging and uneasy listening. The highlights of Hollow Realm are perhaps only revealed with perseverance and determination, characteristics that Talons most definitely have no shortage of.