The legend of Sleepy Hollow begins in Lodi, NJ during the summer of 1999. Joe Dell (former keyboardist/founder of progressive metal band Spectrum Green) approached bassist/vocalist Dan Castiel (of Thrillseeker, etc.) about forming a band. They formed a vision of a band that would be firmly based in classic hard rock and metal, yet incorporate varied, eclectic influences - classical, jazz, folk, funk, etc. Dan also brought the idea of a band of equals, where all members sang and all instruments contributed equally to a greater whole - and idea well supported by examples such as the Beatles and Pink Floyd. They soon added Frank Melick, an inventive drummer and excellent backup vocalist (as well as a fine lead vocalist and showman). They finished the lineup with eclectic guitarist Matt Schwarz - who compliments his power metal electric guitar riffing with a background in classical and traditional folk, and a varied arsenal of other instruments (including flute, acoustic guitar, and Celtic harp with Sleepy Hollow).
Within months, they were performing 2 hour sets of (mostly) original material at nightclubs, bars, and small festivals. 2000 saw them recording their 4-song EP (also available from CDbaby) - each song featuring a different band member on lead vocals. The CD was well-received and required a second pressing in a year.
2001 saw Sleepy Hollow focusing on NYC clubs. The shorter sets and quick set-up time brought an emphasis on songs centered around electric guitar and organ, with less use of piano, acoustic guitar, and flute. The band decided their next album would focus on this hard-rocking material, and entered the studio towards the end of the year with this in mind. Although the recording went quickly - the songs having been well practiced on the live circuit - the final mix lost the heaviness the band had worked so hard to get live, and they decided to remix. After a long search for the right engineer, they decided on Rick Bennett (known for his guitar playing with Naughty Angel,Haphazard, and live Dio). Many of the guitar parts were re-recorded with Matt drop-tuning his guitar, and Rick helped get the songs a heavier sound in the mix. Finally, after further delays with the graphic design, pressing, etc. the disc was released early in 2004.
The centerpiece of the album is the 20-minute, 8-part suite "Goin' Over", containing music and vocals by all band members, and based on an idea of Joe Dell (influenced by the hardships he's seen where he lives). It tells the tale of a young man's descent into increasing drug abuse, using different styles of music to portray the different drugs. The piece opens with Matt's Renaissancey "Broken Water", using acoustic guitar and flutes to portray the innocence and purity of our young hero's birth and early years. The classic hard rock of "Seedy Sales" sets him on his path in high school, from which he proceeds to a Funky Acid Trip ("FAT") with some raunchy lyrics (sung with relish by Frank) to fit the driving, funky groove. "Bad Reflection" brings a faster trip with speed metal, and leads with the heavy grooving nu-metal of "Blast Off" (which manages a nod to King Crimson). "Collapse" brings our tale down from a heavy, shifty-metered prog-metal rush to a mellow, Pink-Floydian calm. A soaring guitar solo sees our victim's soul leave his body, followed by the cathartic "Farewell to a Friend". "Broken Wings" recaps the opening theme on harp, as we envision the protagonist joining the heavenly hosts.
The rest of the album is made up of five shorter songs, exploring different feels of hard rock. "Pay the Price" is aggressive, straight forward hard-rocker from Dan. Joe delivers a catchy, radio-friendly ode to Generation Whine with "90's Chile" and a heavy dirge (with a solid groove) with "Under the Ground" (telling of his fears of being buried alive!). Progressive metal fans should delight in Matt's artsy "Mare Crastinum", containing poetic lyrics and a classical instrumental section where all four instruments swirl around each other. The heaviness and darkness of the rest of the album is finally dispelled with Dan's anthemic Rock Hard, with all four members traiding vocal lines.
A bonus disc contains the "movie version" of the title track, with spoken sections interspersed with the music to flesh out the story.