• Howl – Full Of Hell

    Released by: Relapse Records
    Release Date: May 11, 2010
    List Price: $13.98
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    Note: The following review is based on a digital download supplied for review purposes, so we’ve no idea if it comes with nifty inserts or bonus material of any kind.

    Providence, Rhode Island doesn’t seem like all that gloomy a place. If you’ve been there you know that it’s got some nice beaches and it’s cute, pretty and charming in that quaint New England sort of way. If Howl’s new full length album, appropriately titled Full Of Hell, is anything to go off of, something very evil is afoot. Made up of nine tracks, Full Of Hell sounds just like that – filled to the brim with evil!

    This thick, sludgy, heavy, doomy, stoneriffic full length features vocals that come dangerously close to Cookie Monster death metal grunts and growls but never quite go that far into the extreme to quite cross that line. There’s definitely a melody to the piercing shrieks laid down by Vincent Hausman (who doubles on guitar), but it might take a few listens before you figure it out. Far easier to discern is the pounding, booming and apocalyptic drumming which puts down the first layer on this very thick, layered, slab of an album. The drums on this record absolutely crush, a testament to the firepower that the rather meekly named Timmy St. Amour carries behind his drum kit. Andrea Black on guitar and Robert Icaza on bass round out the bound’s sound nicely.

    With plenty of chord and timing changes placed throughout the album, the band is bound to draw comparisons to Mastodon but they’re really not all that similar once you move past the surface level. Howl’s got a much sludgier, doomier sound going on, it’s considerably more antagonistic and grinding in its attack and in many ways, it’s got more weight to it.

    The band does stick to a fairly tried and true sound for much of the album – the first seven tracks can actually start to blend together into one half hour of boom but towards the end things get a fair bit more technical and creative. Similarities to other Relapse bands, the aforementioned Mastodon and the mighty High On Fire, are bound to be called out but given more time to evolve, Howl could very well carve out their own niche. They make progress towards doing just that on the last three tracks of the album, finishing up with The Day Of Rest, a lumbering, heavy, fantastically spastic closer that goes a long way towards summing up the doom laid down on the nine songs that came before it. It’s a bit longer than it needs to be and it sort of feels like those aforementioned earlier tracks that start the album off, the ones that blend together, but if you let yourself go with it and just let the sometimes droning sounds roll over you like a wave, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Full Of Hell is definitely an album worth listening to while imbibing with a vice of your choice.