, Rhode Island
is certainly not the most uplifting group in the metal scene. Since 2007, they have put themselves out as a band whose formula is to combine the slow violence and melodies of sludge metal with tinges of doom and stoner, as first shown in their debut EP in 2008 under the group’s name. That
release ended up catching the attention of American metal and rock label Relapse Records, who is famous for signing iconic bands such as Necrophagist
, Dying Fetus
, and plenty of others. Soon afterwards, Howl
unleashed their debut full-length album “Full of Hell
” in 2010. Later on, the band underwent a few lineup shifts, and three years after the release of the previous record, it was about time for the group to give its audience another helping of their metallic onslaught. That
album would be their second full-length record simply entitled “Bloodlines.” In a matter of approximately forty minutes, Howl
makes its return and creates a very solid and destructive specimen of sludge metal yet again.
Like before, the group continues to deliver its heavy blows with dark and sludgy metal to pummel the audience. However, there is one major change that Howl
has undergone that is very evident in this release: the sound production has inched away from its raw and trashy sound to a more solid and polished sound. Sadly, this is sort of a problematic decline with this album, because it does take away from the resonant atmosphere and power that made “Full of Hell
” and the debut EP very compelling releases. Nonetheless, there is a positive side to this newer production, because it still manages to have every instrument stand out while sounding compact.
As for the music, it is overall done very well. The polymerization between the slowly crushing sludge and gloomy doom metal is very seamless, and on top of that, the music itself is overall very explosive, in its hooks and build-ups. The album as a whole doesn’t really lend itself to be very inventive for its genre, but it is nevertheless nothing short of enjoyable. Also, the musicianship is excellent, and it really brings out the color of the vile sounds that “Bloodlines” has to offer. The wicked vocals, consisting of snarly high-pitches and throaty roars, definitely sound beastly, sounding somewhat more like a creature than a vocalist in how well they are done. The guitars also possess some murky riffs in the notes they hit and the way they are mixed and sound, as well as the solid and potent drums. The sludgy metallic destruction that “Bloodlines” has to offer is definitely well done, and despite the slight shortcomings, it certainly shows the dark and vapid side of the genre fusion.
However, despite the album appealing mostly to the muddiest corners of the sludge metal genre, there is also plenty of melody lingering throughout the course of the release. This aspect is carried by both the guitars and the vocals, and in both respects, the melodies are also performed well here. The vocals sound very bold and rather sonorous, and although they only play their part occasionally in the course of the entire release, they are done great when they appear. The guitars also fare well in this regard, with solos and melodies being somewhat hinted with a southern edge, with the introduction of the album’s first single “Attrition
” being a grand example of this. Speaking of this hint, the melodies laden in this album are definitely appealing to the the old-school doom and stoner metal sides of the band’s fusion, being slow-paced but slithery in the way the riffs are played out and the way the singing is mixed and modified to create a subtle, psychedelic-doom atmosphere. On top of that, they also help in establishing a sense of dynamicity in the contrast to the murkiness of the other side of the sludge metal that Howl
demonstrates in “Bloodlines,” making it more engaging. In doing so, they also do not cause any loss of focus in the album, because everything is tied together by the sinister tones that define the album’s dark nature. As a result of all these positive elements coalescing, the melodic side of the album is done as well as the more devastating side of the sludge metal coin, and it is overall performed very nicely.
Overall, “Bloodlines” has proven to be a nice follow-up release to the stellar debut “Full of Hell
,” even though it is slightly inferior to it, due to the decline in terms of the sound production and the overall intrigue and innovation. However, this doesn’t stop the release from being a pleasurable listen. The fusion between the sludge, doom, and stoner genres is written and played out very well, in both the destructive and melodic realms. In terms of the destructive side, the sludgy riffs, potent vocals, and the solid drumming all mesh together and make way for treading over the well-built structures of the tracks very decently. On the other hand, the melodies are also performed greatly, providing dynamicity while remaining loyal to the dark, harsh tones that the album overall has to give. With all things considered, “Full of Hell
” is still the group’s best release, but even so, that is no reason to not give “Bloodlines” a shot. Fans of the older releases may be a tad disappointed by how much the band’s sound changed, simply due to the sound production, but even so, they may find something to enjoy here. Along with that, followers of unkind and muddy metal are recommended to this very solid record. Top it all off with some gruesomely breathtaking artwork, and you have yourself a fine piece of metal.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/