Sunday 21 April 2013

Howl - Bloodlines

First things first, this review was one I wrote for another publication but didn't get used due to the record being assigned to two people by mistake. The site used there review as they submitted it first, but said I could post here. To be honest, I was thrilled with that decision as I was really excited when I got this album to review. I've always been an admirer of anything that Relapse Records has released. Also, this new release from Howl attracted me thanks to immense artwork. I love releases with killer artwork and this fit the bill.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Howl, they hail from Providence, RI and they play METAL. No silly genre classifications on display here! They've previously released a self-titled EP and an album, titled Full of Hell. Both of these were released by Relapse in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Bloodlines in there second album and is due for official release at the end of April. Check out the actual release dates below:-

Germany/Benelux - 26th of April
UK/Rest of the World - 29th of April 
USA - 30th of April.


1. Attrition
2. Midnight Eyes
3. Demonic
4. One Last Nail
5. Down So Low
6. Your Hell Begins
7. With A Blade
8. Of War
9. The Mouth of Madness
10. Embrace Your Nerve 

Howl has swagger and a lot of it! Everything from the driving riffs to the screaming solos to the furious growls hit the spot. Such as other artists on Relapse, they have a unique sound and one, which tells you exactly why they're part of that roster. Their sound is a blend of straightforward, bluesy style metal and subtle stoner grooves. The vocals are akin to that of bands like A Life Once Lost and label mates, Mastodon. Howl are heavier though and don't give off the impression that they're playing a certain way because it's cool. Attrition is a great opener, with all the unholy venom and groove you need. They don't use any funny electronic effects or such like; they just let their instruments do the talking for them. Having three guitarists ensures the volume is sufficiently high from the off and when you add the powerful drums and bass into the equation, you have a hellish mix.

Demonic hits the spot because like the majority of Bloodlines, it's a succinct length that keeps you interested and doesn't outstay it's welcome. In terms of their influences and textures, they throw in some time changes and sludge inspired sections, to balance out the metal drive of the record. Down So Low begins with some haunting, almost chanted clean vocals and killer dissonant riffs. The solo mid-way through is equally epic. The lone guitar during Your Hell Begins has that tone that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The clean vocals in the final part of the song show that they are able to integrate more modern metal elements into their sound. Of War is the shortest track on Bloodlines, but it's a standout for me due to the amount going on within it. It twists and turns and shows off the bands experimental side further, while relaxing the brutality level slightly. It shows an evolution within the album itself and means that there really in no filler at all in sight!

The main draw for me here is the guitar work overall, but Bloodlines works so well as a cohesive unit that it's hard to knock any part of the album. It may only be Howl's second album, but it marks them out as already being confident and accomplished songwriters. This will gain them new fans and the vinyl version that's out via Relapse looks totally incredible!

As it's not been officially released yet, it's not up for streaming in it's entirety. Relapse have posted the album opener Attrition up for you to listen to and to be honest, that should be all you need:-

You can preorder Bloodlines on CD and Vinyl from the Relapse record store via the link on the above bandcamp page. 

Relapse Store -

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