Hey you, yeah you, drifter, vagabond, whatever you like to call yourself, you wandering soul. Come sit with us by the campfire as we explore the tale of All Hail The Yeti, and their latest chapter, “Within the Hollow Earth”.
The 4-piece metal force from Los Angeles has unleashed a brand new seven-track EP, and it’s just about thirty minutes of some of the most fun, energetic, ferocious and groovy metal you will hear this year. It’s a big call, but the rawness, the natural old-school metal sound mixed in a modern way and bloody entertaining songwriting all culminates to make an album that draws you in and invites you to not only listen, but to dive deep into the stories and themes.
All Hail The Yeti has been around since 2006, with their last album “Highway Crosses”, dropping into our laps back in 2018. That album genuinely grabbed people, and they have since gone on tour with bands like In Flames, All That Remains, and played at the massive Wacken Open Air Festival in 2019. Just before the end of 2021, “Within the Hollow Earth” has been thrust in our faces like the punch on Pantera’s iconic album cover for “Vulgar Display of Power”, except this EP won’t leave you with a broken jaw, just a huge grin.
The group worked with Steve Evetts, a veteran producer in the metal scene, to create this EP. Unsurprisingly, the mix is natural sounding in many ways, yet sounds insanely clear and bright. Nothing sounds over processed, it’s just raw energy from a solid performance from all members of the band. The blackened-sludge sections have this big sound coming from all areas of the soundscape, but the listener is then hit directly from the front with slamming sequences that come out of nowhere. The vocals move around throughout the entire EP, and guitar layers seem to do the same thing which really keeps you interested. There were multiple times where after hearing a track for the third or fourth time, I’d hear a new guitar layer in the background subtly playing, and that really encouraged further focus on the rest of the tracks. Ultimately, at face value, the music slams, charms and entertains. When you dig a little deeper, you find bonus performances and additions that further emphasize and expand the EP to really engage the listener and bring them deep into the music.
Connor Garritty handles the harsh vocals, and his performance on this release is intense in all the best ways. He seethes fury for the entirety of this EP, and at more extreme times lets out some absolutely unbridled screams. We’re immediately introduced to his intensity in “Bury Your Memory”, the 5-minute opening track, but what struck me more was how clear his enunciation was. The combination of the crystal clear mix and his technique makes his voice one of the most understandable out there, even when going to the extreme side of his harsh vocal spectrum. Couple the accessibility of his voice, and the highly entertaining lyrics surrounding multiple stories and folklore, and you’ve got an entrancing performance on your hands. This performance stays unrelenting throughout, but my highlight moments from him are towards the end of “Headless Valley” and just before the final chorus to “Cold Dead Leaves” where he screams ‘cold’. He goes full throttle, and that’s about as much as I need to say.
Those metallic and groovy clean vocals that contrast perfectly to Garritty’s performance come from the bassist Nicholas Diltz. It’s a really unusual way to describe his voice, but if you put Ozzy Osbourne and the late Layne Staley’s voices in a mixing bowl and whisked them together, Diltz voice would be the delicious mix that swirls around before you. The choruses across “Within the Hollow Earth” are as catchy as anything, and Diltz’ voice undeniably aids in this. The call and response relationship between him and Garritty happens on tracks like “Funeral Heart” and “Cold Dead Leaves”, though at other times they sing in unity, and the tracks expand like a balloon across your speakers as a result. These tunes are large, and they are constantly moving and shifting in mass, not least because of the vocal performances from these two.
But these guitars, man. These guitars…
The tone of the strings on “Within the Hollow Earth” is utterly massive, and the sound just bleeds into the air around you. The guitars are given tonnes of room to breathe, and you can hear it in the mix. The beginning of “Funeral Heart” is a great example of this. The guitar on the right reverbs across to the left and fills up the space, so you can imagine when both guitars are going at it, the whole soundscape is just full of burly punchy riffs.
That’s what’s going on throughout this EP, striking, driving riffs. I really had a hard time figuring out whether the vocals were more entertaining, or the guitars. Dave Vanderlinde is the guitarist of All Hail The Yeti, and he makes it sound like it’s anyone’s dream job. The potency coming through even one string at times is enough to carry this release. In “Cry of the Waheela” the bottom string is fired across a riff like a weapon of mass destruction, and this fortunately happens a lot throughout the whole of the EP.
There’s a lot of creativity throughout the tracks, from haunting melodies that float between your eardrums in “Bury Your Memory” all the way to guitar solos coated in a feeling of metal and hard rock nostalgia in “Headless Valley”. The bridge section in “Nidavelir” has this almost out of tune sounding melody which caught me off guard, to some extent, but I found it to be a nice adjustment, a change-up in the exact middle of the EP. Those delicious harmonics in “The Great Dying” are just infectious in their attitude, and the simple yet effective power chords in that track’s chorus remind us that sometimes less really is more.
I mentioned this earlier, but the placement of some sneaky layers here and there through “Within the Hollow Earth” is something I really appreciated and enjoyed. I don’t want to give them away too much, but “Cold Dead Leaves” has some of my favorite little additions in the background.
There is one thing that is not in the background which I’m beyond happy about… the bass. Diltz is easy to appreciate from start to end, with the bass slinking and twanging away like nothing else matters. It adds an extra layer of grittiness to an already raw and unyielding mix. The beginning of “Funeral Heart” has Diltz absolutely abusing the strings on his bass, and that’s just what is needed to match the attitude of the rest of the band.
Honestly, this album didn’t need any more punch, but Ryan Kittlitz definitely wasn’t asking permission to join in. He plays an incredible drum performance on “Within the Hollow Earth”, beating the skins like they owe him money.
The listener will immediately notice the weight that’s behind the kick drum. The toms follow suit, and the snare rings out like a gunshot for the most part. Again, the mixing is just pristine. The fills throughout the seven tracks are damn delightful, full of variation and really bringing even more personality to this already colorful performance from the band as a whole. There is so much space on this EP for Kittlitz to express himself, and that’s what he does. The fill at the end of “Nidavelir” is solid, and the rhythmic blast during the choruses for “Cold Dead Leaves” is a great little addition to increase the aggression further just for a short time. I love that the drums don’t just follow the same rhythm as the guitar, or vice versa. The kicks especially have their own rhythm, their own patterns during tracks like “Headless Valley” but they work symbiotically with the guitars without fail.
If you need a succinct comment on this release, it is this: seven tracks was not enough. I definitely wanted more because All Hail The Yeti have put together an awesome collection for “Within the Hollow Earth”, each track having their own stories and themes, personalities and defining moments. The energy is palpable, and the expression of every member is easily heard and appreciated. The whole release is a constant barrage of solid metal riffs and engaging sludgy grooves, but the listener won’t feel exhausted by the end of “The Great Dying”. One great thing about this EP only being seven tracks long, is that you can jump right back to the start, and have your favorite stories retold.
Released On: November 12th, 2021
Released By: Minus Head Records
- Connor Garritty / Vocals
- Nicholas Diltz / Bass/Vocals
- Dave Vanderlinde / Guitars
- Ryan Kittlitz / Drums
“Within the Hollow Earth” Tracklist:
- Bury Your Memory
- Headless Valley
- Funeral Heart
- Cold Dead Leaves
- Cry of the Waheela
- The Great Dying
All Hail The Yeti have brought their signature sound, and turned it up to a whole new level. That classic mix of old-school metal and southern groove is delivered to the listener in 7 insanely entertaining tracks, spearheaded by a captivating performance in both the clean and harsh vocal department. The stories within the tracks effortlessly drag you in and bring that campfire imagery to forefront of your mind, and that captivating element to their music is what makes this release so engaging, and so much fun to experience.