May 24, 2010 | , | 4

Howl, Full of Hell

Howl: Full of Hell

All it takes is one listen. One listen allows this Rhode Island group the singular opportunity they need to splatter your corpse across with wall with a wreaking ball of a debut album. Howl‘s Full of Hell is not only full of hellfire and brimstone, but it’s teeming with sludgy doom riffs, an open-wound rawness and unrelenting, bruising rhythms.

The guitars throughout the band’s debut are meaty and carry just the right amount of texture to smother without fully suffocating the listener in static drone. There’s a huge amount of groove flowing through them as well, as driven by the massive drum and bass work. The vocal work is gruff and raspy, often minimally used on a couple of tracks. Those growls also suffer a little in that they are deep within the walls of sound that churn from the speakers — a little more forward placement might be cool.

Overall, the music on Full of Hell is primal and rumbles like and oncoming thunderstorm over the plains. It’s definitely for fans of Kylesa, Baroness and Mastadon, but with an unrefined edge that’s darker and more foreboding.

Horns of Steel
“Horns of Steel” opens up the album with slowly developing riffs and spoken vocals that weave in and out of the sludgy tones. Once the band settles into the song there’s an infectious groove slithering through the track as crashing drums, thick bass and raw vocals come together in a swell of doom.

You Jackals Beware
The dark tones carry you into “You Jackals Beware,” as churning riffs sink you deeper into a mire of sludge and distortion. For as thick and as raw as the guitars come across there’s still a decent melody sitting in the mix that keeps each track from becoming monotonous and boring. This album has the feel of a well seasoned band. Man, there’s some massive groove in this song.

Gods In Broken Men
I wasn’t sure it was possible, but Howl have cranked up the distortion and rawness of their guitars for this next one. It’s super thick and chunky and threatens to engulf my stereo with seething doom. This is quite a song — one that lifts you momentarily on brighter guitar tones before dragging you back into the depths of churning sludge. Hot damn!

This instrumental break eats up about a minute of your time, but it’s worth it. The guitar work on it is simple, soulful and carries the momentum of the previous tracks along without missing a beat.

“Jezebel” transitions in smoothly with catchy riffs and infectious groove. This one will have you nodding along with the band in not time. There are some real nice tempo shifts throughout the song that push and pull you along each note and bark. The more active portion about half way through has some great drum work behind it.

Speaking of great drum work… the opening few moments of “Heavenless” contain impressive rolling drums that fade in from the distance with atmospheric guitar tones and noise. These guys (and gal) sure do know how to set the mood of a song, don’t they. Once the band gets into this song there is so much going on and layered within the track that it’s almost overwhelming at times. Massive riffs, soaring hooks, creative drums, dense bass and dark vocals combine to create a tour de force of a song. This very well could be the best song on the album — that is, if I were forced to pick just one.

The Scorpion’s Last Sting
The opening to this next song has a bit more of an aggressive edge to it as the guitars stagger in and our over a steady drum pounding. The vocals are also a good deal more aggressive, coming across a bit deeper and more guttural that previous tracks. Man, this is a burly song — some of the riffs in here are beefy as hell, yet still contain a measure of restraint. Needless to say, this is another killer tune.

Parish of the Obscene
With this much sludge and doom you’d think that by the eighth song you’d be done for — overwhelmed by monotony and noise. Well, you’re completely fucking wrong on that. Howl keep delivering the heavy with more massive, groove fueled riffs, but keep everything fresh and minty clean (well, as clean as grimy sludge can get) on each track. “Parish of the Obscene” is no exception as the band mixes up the tempos and guitar tones slightly here and there to keep you on your toes.

The Day of Rest
Coming in at just over 10 minutes in length, “The Day of Rest” starts off with slick riffs and bass over light drums for a solid minute before the band starts to expand musically with big growls, massive riffs and a very dense production. This is a dark track for sure that’s got more than enough sludge, texture and distortion to go around for everyone. The most surprising thing about this monolithic song is that it never meanders. Sure it’s weighty and packed full of all kinds of sludgy goodness, but it also carries itself quite well, ending quicker than you would think a ten minute track would.

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