Release Date: April 30, 2013
I must offer my deepest and sincerest apologies to all. I have been remiss in my duty to review the sophomore album from American doomsters, Howl. “Bloodlines” is the follow-up to 2010’s “Full of Hell”. You see I have been preoccupied with deleting my phone messages, emails, texts and computer search history, to guard against the latest intrusion in our privacy in the name of safety and protection. This comes just after my taping garbage bags over my windows with duct tape so drones can’t peak in, and locking up my firearms and medieval weaponry, all while building my underground bunker. So please forgive me as I have been super busy.
The only reason I did recently find time to review this album is that I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after I dreamt I was in 1984 of the Orwellian variety. Which is freaky enough, but what made it worse was that Tipper Gore was our president and metal music was once again targeted as being a threat and thus under new laws, anyone caught listening to it was forced to watch entire episode reruns of “Love Boat” while music from Michael Buble was piped over the speakers. It was truly horrifying.
I decided to stay up for a while after that and headed to my den of inequity where I can indulge in all of my vices in privacy and solitude, well at least for now.
Being new to Howl I cranked up “Bloodlines” and set about scouring the internet. The band formed in 2006 in Providence, Rhode Island. The current line up includes Vincent Hausman (vocals, guitar), Jonathan Hall (guitar), Josh Durocher-Jones (guitar), Jesse Riley (bass) and Timmy St. Amour (drums. They should not be confused with a couple of other bands of the same name, one of which is classified as alternative rock and who hail from Oslo, Norway. Our Howl is most defiantly metal and even though a couple of the guys look as though they could be supporting cast of a “Jay and Silent Bob” movie don’t let that fool you.
“Bloodlines” was produced by the masterful Chris “Zeuss” Harris. He of All That Remains, Hatebreed and Soulfly fame, to name but a few. It comes as no surprise that the production is stellar. While I do not read other reviews on bands before I write my own, as I like to remain pure and unspoiled, during my “research” I came across some of the comments for this new album and it seems it has been met with mixed and unfavorable reviews.
After having experienced “Bloodlines” for myself I cannot join the unfavorable crowd as I found most of the tracks (10 in all) on this album to be enjoyable, and the lyrics thought-provoking. Especially “Midnight Eyes” where there is a line; “can’t change your animal instincts at all,” ah, so true.
Vocalist Hausman sounds absolutely malevolent at times and he displays a nice range and variance throughout the album. Whether he’s digging deep for those guttural growls or raising hairs with his eerie cleans, he brings it all to the table.
“Demonic” I can only describe as, thick, rich and gooey…satisfying, like some sort of decadent ear caramel. Take that sentence and make of it what you will. Plenty of sludge and chug.
“Your Hell Begins” tops them all and reminds me of every family gathering I have ever had to endure. For that reason alone it is perhaps fitting that the band taps a small death metal vein here.
“With a Blade” is straight forward and offers up some tasty guitar work. While the final track “Embrace your Nerve” should help you find your balls if you have misplaced them.
While some have proffered that Howl has slipped a bit on this effort I am of the mind that they have made forward progression. Overall, I dig this band and give “Bloodlines” a solid 7 out of 10. The vocals are what you would expect, the guitar work is fancy in some parts, the rhythm section a plodding beast, and the band fully embraces its sludgy down-tuned soul.