Howls of Ebb’s latest album Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows (I, Voidhanger/Nuclear War Now) is monster of an album. Starting off with track ‘The 6th Octopul’th Grin’ which shows a menacing display of low-end power and ferocity: gurgling death growls and blackened guitar. There’s a real textural vibe to it, reminiscent of Portal, with a mix of blackened death metal and discordant jazz.
The confident predatory swagger of the drumming provides a framework for sheer sonic madness. The atmosphere is permeated with unique riffs appearing relentlessly as snarling vocals swirl around. This gives the song a chaotic soundscape which bristles with dark energy and an undulating yet majestic thumping beat.
The bridge on ‘Cabals of Molder’ is out of this world, a shuffling beat, but with a real organic feel to the production. A soundscape rich with decay punctuated by the wail of screaming guitars; demonic vocals whispering hypnotically throughout like an ill wind and the bass line slithers around the piece rattling with menace. The soundscapes seem to alternate between telling a story and summoning some Lovecraftian nightmare. It really feels like a living entity, pulsating, slithering, crawling and Howls of Ebb have to be congratulated on bringing it to life.
The album takes a slower, more doom laden turn at ‘Maat Mons’ Fume’, jangley soundscapes with a raw underlying power reminiscent of Ahab give the sense of being toyed with by an unknown predator. Howls of Ebb’s world is a dark and scary place and this album is the musical equivalent of psychological horror, and instills the listener with a sense of panic.
The next few tracks take a more traditional approach unlike their other releases, after a few listens this can be a little disappointing given the brilliance so far. It’s still good however and throughout there’s a nice rhythm and pace; varied drumming and some really nice percussion and particularly on track 4 more than a passing nod to Pestilence’s spheres album.
‘Subliminal Lock_ A Precursor to V’ is the most obvious Black Metal infused track with hissy malevolent guitar work and vocals almost providing the rhythm at times whilst the drums go on a free-form whirlwind around the song. But the middle of it is somewhat tame compared to the wild inventiveness of the rest of the album.
Last track ‘The Apocryphalic Wick’ starts of slowly with a feeling of rebirth, reminding me a lot of the atmospheric doom of Botanist before kicking in halfway through with some frenetic drum work, and a flat-out Slayer inspired guitar solo taking the album out on a bit of a high before terminating the journey with an abrupt stop.
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