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The Sixxis: Hollow Shrine

Layered prog metal debut from experienced session guys.

The Sixxis have a mean collective CV, with qualifications coming out of their ears (they all have degrees in their respective instruments), competition wins secured, no exotic scale left unmastered.

One of these guys even played with Mariah Carey once, but support slots with The Winery Dogs, Wishbone Ash and a place on Mike Portnoy’s Progressive Nation At Sea will have done much more for their street cred. Pleasingly, for a record by such proficient players, Hollow Shrine is relatively free of fretboard fiddling. Enough of a technical edge comes through to give them intrigue, but without dissolving into masturbo-metal. Atmospheric layers in Dreamers form a solid base for proggy anticipation, and deep, crunching riffs call to mind Tool (Dave Bottrill produced the album) and Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree – dark and brooding, yet zesty. Vocalist Vladdy Iskhakov can sing, but too many melodies here are at the more wailing, less compelling end of the spectrum. For example, the heavy-handed vocal in Out Alive jars against the commanding instrumental work prevalent here. That said, a few more tunes and they’re sure to flourish.