Released: 2013, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
This album bores the piss out of me.
I (almost) feel a little guilty saying that, because I think I’m supposed to like Howl a lot more than I do. They’ve got some pretty boss album covers, and they’ve got a decent vibe around them, but try as hard as I might, I just can’t see the appeal. For those unfamiliar, Rhode Island’s Howl is part of the so-called post doom/sludge movement, often mentioned alongside names like Black Tusk, Kylesa, and The Atlas Moth. The big difference being is that those other bands are interesting.
OKAY, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Or maybe not. I paid good money for 2010’s FULL OF HELL, and try as I might, I think I made it through the whole album two, maaaaybe three times? And that’s that I’m a usually a patsy for anything doomy or sludge related, as well as an admitted fanboy for most anything released through Relapse Records. But dammit, that album was dull. As is their follow up full length, BLOODLINES. It’s 40 minutes of mid-tempo, uninspired, monotonous, and derivative dirty riffs that sound no different from track one to track ten. No joke – I seriously pondered the possibility of Relapse engaging in a belated April Fool’s Day prank by releasing the same track ten times in the album promo, albeit slightly rearranged. But then I came to my senses and realized that BLOODLINES is just a really f@#king dull album.
Okay not 100% dull, there are a few high points. “Attrition” starts out amped enough and “Midnight Eyes” has a sort of interesting but not really bluesy coda, but the album doesn’t progress much beyond that. “One Last Nail” briefly flirts with some Killswitch styled riffs that add some much needed variety to the disc, but the rest of BLOODLINES is pretty much the same four or five riffs farted out at varying tempos. A big part of the problem is that vocalist/guitarist Vincent Hausman barks out the same stifled, monotone processed quasi-growl across each track, squashing any semblance of attempted individualism. The other problem is that the rest of the band quickly settles into a comfort zone of familiarity that may sound kick ass in the practice room, but much less so to an objective listener hearing these tracks for the first time.
In all fairness, I’ve seen Howl live, and their delivery on stage trumps anything I’ve heard on CD exponentially; so if you happen upon a chance to check the boys out in concert, I’d recommend it, as I’m sure this new material will translate much better live as well. But, that doesn’t save BLOODLINES from being an overtly challenging listen for all the wrong reasons. I really, REALLY wanted to like this album, but I don’t. And I’d be doing both of us a disservice if I’d try to convince you otherwise. BLOODLINES is available April 29th through Relapse Records, but so are a bunch of other records more deserving of your shekels.