Release DetailsLABEL Hells Headbangers
RELEASED ON 6/1/2007
The Howling Damned
posted on 12/2007 By:
Never eschewing melody for the sake of sounding brutal, Australia's Grenade have found their happy place within the black/death metal realm and they're clearly channeling that sense of balance on their first full-length, The Howling Damned.
Much like Nachtmystium, Destroyer 666, I and a handful of other bands that take their influences from uniformly dark but recognizably different subgenres, Grenade prove that purity is for pussies. Who needs straight-up thrash, death or black metal when you can combine all three? Scenes can go to hell. Or heaven. Whichever is worse, I suppose. Anyway, the point is that there's an advantage to not having to fit some rigid set of rules that defines what makes a band black or death metal. I seriously doubt these guys, who, coincidentally, are now disbanded, sat in a room for hours on end deciding what exactly they were going to sound like, genre tag and all. I picture frontman Nygil picking up a guitar, playing a few practice notes, then kicking into some nasty riff before the other guys join in. In other words, it's an organic process, the result being an obliterating sonic holocaust.
While I'd argue that atmosphere is still pretty important to The Howling Damned, the principal element is certainly the guitar. Songs like "Hellsong" and "Metal of Death" are dense with rich, spine-tinglingly excellent riffage. A thick layer of good old-fashioned rock and roll attitude keeps the album afloat even when things start to sound redundant ("Carnivorous Lunar Activities"). Personally, were I Grenade I might have tried to keep this at under 40 minutes, but most of these 8 songs are very well-written and, generally speaking, The Howling Damned rips. This hybrid black/death metal sound hasn't been overly exploited, at least not yet, so the album's shelf life should be pretty long considering it's one of the best examples of the genre I've heard. There's a reason why these guys (well, guy now) are on Hells Headbangers (aside from the fact one of their song titles is "Headbanger From Hell)". They're talented, and the band has a keen ear for songwriting. While you will notice the hybrid sound, the focus is always on moving things forward in a uniformly thrashy fashion, so it never sounds superficially diverse. Whether you're into black, death, or thrash metal, this one's for you.
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