The Howling Void – Runa EP (Avantgarde Music)

Wednesday, 5th November 2014
Rating: 8/10

Repurposed out of the shackles of funeral doom, the one-man project that is The Howling Void (i.e. multi-instrumentalist Ryan, also of San Antonio’s Hordes of the Morning Star), Runa happens to be a compelling, if not largely Scandinavian listen. Based upon the fact that it’s usually a good idea for American bands to look over to Norway and/or Sweden and/or Iceland for ideas and not the other way around, the three jams found on Runa are fully exploratory, and most of all, challenging.

Branded as “the mythic paradigm of initiation in the Left Hand Path as expressed by Woden/Wotan/Odin’s journey into darkness in search of wisdom,” Runa hits the most of the right atmospheric buttons, like on opener “Irminsul,” which cross-references classic-era Thyrfing with Viking-era Enslaved, which on many levels, would also be their classic era. But anyway, Ryan’s hypnotic clean vocals (placed in the back of the mix) serve as the guide for an elongated tune that never loses its grip. The more sideways, yet reserved “Nine Nights” bathes in the glow of wintry keyboards and blustery clean passages, while “The Wolf and the Eclipse” works its way through a hummable barrage of Twilight of the Gods-era Bathory for yet another climatic listen.

One of the better, more focused EPs to come across DR’s desk in 2014, Runa works because its length, and lack of length, if that makes any sense. We say that because if Ryan decided to stretch this thing out across a full album, then the immediacy of his ideas would be lost. Therefore, chalk this one up as a total winner; ideal listening for the epic-hearted, and (hammer)-hearted, too.

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