PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Howl: Bloodlines

At least the front cover is really, really cool!


Howl

Bloodlines

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2013-04-30
UK Release Date: 2013-04-29
Amazon
iTunes

There wasn’t anything spectacular about Howl’s previous album Full of Hell. While possessing the sufficient musical chops to put together some decent sounding riffs, the band was still not able to muster up a record that can be seen as a stand-out. It did have its moments, particularly when aping the furnace-like tone of High on Fire (almost respectably, one might say). However, what Howl’s first full length did have over this marginal follow-up (besides better songs) was a clearer vision of the sound they wanted to ultimately achieve. Full of Hell exhibited a band that was just warming up before unveiling something truly notable, but just hadn’t quite gotten it yet. Unfortunately, on Bloodlines their former vision seems to have blurred and any existing creative impetus has been hindered and not harnessed.

Touted incessantly as a stoner/doom metal band, Howl no longer bares much remnant of that sound. They remain undeniably heavy but seem to be incorporating other approaches on Bloodlines that only serve to undermine their efforts. The record plays like a grab bag of influences, and, as opposed to its predecessor, it sounds like Howl’s already limited repertoire has been spread way too thin.

Perhaps the band isn’t solely to blame for the heavy dilution. A poor (yet overly glorified) choice in record producer may have been this record’s undoing. Keith Souza was behind the boards for the first album, and seemingly his guidance gave the band a promising foundation. Nevertheless, his groundwork was possibly undone when not-so-super producer Zeus (Hatebreed, Crowbar, Terror) took the helm for this release. Some of the prepackaged hooks and breakdowns that are all too prevalent in Zeus’ work seem to be the very elements that break up Howl’s central theme.

This is evident instantly as the album opens up with “Attrition”, with its crunching riff cadence that will woefully fuel the furiously stupid neo-moshing of many backpack-clad teens, all of who will show an enthusiastic appreciation of the song's mediocrity by punching the air in unison like a remedial Karate class. On the second track, “Midnight Eyes”, a little saving grace appears at two and a half minutes, riding in on the back of a bluesy, galloping doom swing. Unfortunately, the Sabbath-like interlude is soon interrupted with a return to beating the dead horse of muted open chord chugging.

The middle block of the album has no rising action; in fact, it doesn’t plateau. All the while, the only continuity evident in this album is the cyclical use of made-for-Ozzfest, thug-ballerina fodder. Where was Zeus’ ear during the recording? At what point did he stop detecting nauseating repetition?

“With a Blade” has a redeeming quality, opening with a wide open jam full of stoner groove that plays into a melodic part, and then punctuated with a very heavy breakdown. Still, this song marks too small a peak on the graph to overshadow the distressingly annoying “Of War”, with its pompous, Power Metal affect. Perhaps they really are a stoner/doom metal band deep down inside, but you would have to remove several cosmetic layers to notice.

The main disappointment about Bloodlines is that you can hear potential smothered underneath all of the cheesy go-to mosh parts. This band does play with some conviction, and maybe for Howl the third time might be a charm. For the band to get back in touch with their sound, it will require a producer that is a little more relevant to their genre than Zeus. Maybe, if Keith Souza were to come back and cut off a whole lot of fat from this album, Relapse might be able to repackage it as an EP, doing some well-deserved justice to that fantastic front-cover illustration.

4

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.