Full disclosure: yes, there are forgettable songs. Yes, they stay in D flat too long. Yes, this album rocks so hard those previous yes’s don’t matter.
Full of Hell showed up so high on my year-end “best of” list that I owed my soul to review it. (Satanic legalese semantics.)
First off, I practically sucked the metaphoric phallus off of their first EP, Howl.
Second, I pre-ordered Full of Hell (I never do that) from the Jonsing for its sludgy grooves… and all to absolutely no disappointment here, daddy-o.
Third, I have bought not one, but two tickets to see Howl live, and failed to make both engagements. These are the only times I’ve not made it to a gig I pre-paid for. Both times for strange reasons I won’t go into here. I don’t know what the metal deities are trying to tell me, frankly.
And I don’t care. Suck it, universe! Heed my four areas of Howl’s awesomeness!
Ahem. *Adjusts monocle*
Area A: Riffs
The record is as close to my riff Nirvana/ Valhalla as I’ve gotten thusfar in my journeys on this plane: in my metal nerd fantasy world, I imagine the greatest sludge album to be composed entirely of riffs as good as Into the Void: snakey, sessy riffs in minor and diminished chords, detuned and played lento. All the songs on this record are riffs constructed to work together. If that sounds oversimplified, it really isn’t: think about it, most sludge/ doom records aren’t all riffs– they’re a riff here and there, linked by open (i.e., BONNNNNG!) chords.
Not that that doesn’t sound good, but it’s not memorable at all. Very nearly anyone in the world can pick up a guitar or bass and sound the open note. Fewer can write actual riffs that flow together. Howl do, baby.
Area B: production/ engineering/ mixing
Think ...And Justice For All. Dry. Very dry.
At first I didn’t like it: the Howl ep sounded very different, more saturated, warm. After many listens, the nearly bone-dry production grew on me, and it made me respect the record even more, as it emphasized the songwriting– there’s no so-amped-up-it-clips production to mask a lack of skill in the songs’ construction.
Track highlights: Asherah, Jezebel, Heavenless, The Scorpion’s Last Sting, and The Day of Rest.
Area C: Drums…?!
99% of drums are never noticed: that’s pretty much the function of that timekeeping device, to keep everything together, animate it– invisibly. There’s only two reasons to notice a drummer: because they suck, or because they’re awesome. Howl’s Timmy St. Amour is delicate, tasteful, fast, graceful yet still heavy. He’s the perfect foil for the simple thick riffs. He, Behemoth’s Zbigniew Robert Promiński, aka Inferno, and Intronaut‘s Danny Walker are three of the most perfects skinsmen I’ve heard in the last few years.
Area D: album cover
Well, just look up there at that motherfucker. I put in high-res for a reason.