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Holland - Little Monsters Review

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Holland - Little Monsters

Holland - Little Monsters

While Holland was given that moniker due to the last name of vocalist Tom Holland, the real star of the group was guitarist Michael Angelo Batio. Any guitar snob will know why having a musician like Batio in the band made him the attraction. Holland was one of Batio’s first projects, and at the time, he was known as a session player. The first Retro Recommendation of 2013 profiles the band’s 1985 album Little Monsters.

Tom Holland formed this band after his stint with the 18th version of Steppenwolf, using his name as the selling point. His vocals, however, are not spectacular. After hearing enough wobbly pitches from prototypical ‘80s singers to last a lifetime, it’s welcoming to hear a vocalist avoid going over-the-top. He doesn’t have any particular highlights, but he is a solid cog in the Holland machine.

These ten songs are basic hard rock/heavy metal, all of them right around the radio-appropriate three-and-a-half minute mark. Any one of these songs could have received airplay, from the raucous opener “Love In On Time” to the party hit “Wake Up The Neighborhood.” No gooey, love-fest tunes slow this record down, though “Middle Of A Dream” has a wistful acoustic melody in the background, and “Gotta Run” has a slight power ballad mentality.

If it wasn’t for Batio’s involvement, Little Monsters would have not been worth the space on this column. He was still a young guitarist, but he made the most out of the songs' restrictions. Though his riffs are rudimentary, his shredding is far too sophisticated for this album. He takes a standard intro solo to “Love In On Time” and sparks a passionate note to start the album. Though Batio would go on to impress guitar aficionados worldwide in the ‘90s and ‘00s, he made an impression with every screeching lead on Little Monsters.

Little Monsters was released on major label Atlantic Records, but didn’t see much promotion beyond an initial pressing. It didn’t help that the band was around for less than a few years, meaning that this album is hard to come across in physical form. It was re-issued in 2003 by Wounded Bird Records, but there has been grumbling of issues with the remixing. It can be found in MP3 format as well, making it accessible to those who want to check it out.

Batio benefited the most from his time with Holland, as he went on to play in several more bands before finding his niche as a solo musician. Little Monsters didn’t show off his full talent, but like what early Pantera albums did for Dimebag Darrell, there are hints that Batio would become arguably one of the best shredders of all time. For being a “Did You Know?” trivia fact for Batio fans, Little Monsters gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.

“Love In On Time” Live 1985 Video

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