Howl – Full of Hell (Relapse Records)

Monday, 18th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

As raw and ragged as say, Kylesa, perhaps Lair of the Minotaur and Black Cobra, Providence, Rhode Island’s Howl manage to produce a relentless, plundering debut with Full of Hell. At this juncture, the type of noise that Howl is pumping out (big guitars, big wall of sound, big drums…you get it) is all the rage, so it’s mildly comforting to know there are bands capable of not playing it safe and producing the same ‘ole rehashed garbage.

The rumble and roar you’ll get on opener “Horns of Steel” is the catalyst for the better part of this nine-song offering. In fact, the idea that Full of Hell is only nine songs and is bereft of long and laborious songs makes things a bit more open. Case in point, the wonderfully-named “You Jackals Beware” (which is the best song title of the year, mind you), jousts back and forth between prime Melvins riffage and post-apocalyptic tones. It’s a heaving, monstrous beast.

The intensity level is kicked up a few notches on the surging “Gods In Broken Men,” a jam that boasts plenty of double-bass action. Slower, more concerted numbers like “Jezebel” and “Heavenless” (love the intro) are as not as plodding as they seem; while the broken frenzy of “The Scorpion’s Last Sting” is perhaps the most vitriolic and pointed number of the bunch.

One could imagine Howl being incessantly loud in the live arena (I have no clue – you tell me), and the nine songs on Full of Hell are as towering as they come. In what has become a mostly unmemorable brand of metal (read: noise over song identity), Howl show promising signs of getting out of that ditch. Full of Hell is aptly named, too (cue clichéd journalism quote): it will take you to the bowls of hell.

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