The Howling Wind
Into The Cryosphere
posted on 4/2010 By:
Every few months or so, five or ten killer bands suddenly appear on my radar from different places, all playing roughly parallel styles, and all somewhat new to my ear. Recently, two similar bands have made themselves newly known to me, one being the UK’s murderously heavy Dragged Into Sunlight, while the second is The Howling Wind, a duo from Brooklyn, NY, and Portland, Oregon, featuring the revered Killusion (Ryan Lipynsky) of Thralldom/Unearthly Trance and Parasitus Nex from folk metal band Hail and Aldebaran. While Dragged Into Sunlight is undoubtedly the more nihilistic of the two, the bi-coastal pair that makes up The Howling Wind are most assuredly plotting to make a pronounced statement of their own with Into The Cryosphere.
I’ve seen THW being referred to as black metal (and they are), but they also hurl monolithically heavy, morbidly obese sludge relentlessly into the mix, at times coming across like some sort of pissed-off blackened offspring of Swarm Of The Lotus and Kylesa on a violent meth binge. Look no further than the drug-addled soloing and grinding trudge of “Teeth Of Frost” for ample proof of this. Yet it isn’t quite the raging musical temper tantrum like Hatred For Mankind, instead The Howling Wind makes more of repetition with subtle shifts, keeping the anger thoroughly managed and restrained by avoiding an overabundance of high and low dynamics.
While being a bit direct, simplicity isn’t always the path they choose to destroy, but they lay waste when it happens. The rare and varying blast beats, obnoxiously sustained notes, and rumbling double bass drums mesh and swell with harsh groove under acridly sodden vocals. It’s old-school black/death metal played through a screen of modern, sludgy doom, and it works. For having only seven tracks and thirty-three minutes of music, these two sick bastards seem determined make this worth your time.
I think what works best is how good songwriting is always the focus, with effects being kept to a minimum while incorporating enough ethereal musicality to still produce a moderately spiritual air. They give themselves a little room to prepare and take breaths between the beatings, like with the mild beginning static of opener “The Seething Wrath Of A Frigid Soul”, Neur/Isis instrumental “Impossible Eternity”, and the deceptively dark interlude called “Obscured Pyramid” that does a great job at keeping things on track with a minimalist approach. “Ice Cracking In The Abyss” lays down a world of hurt with a franticly wild blast frenzy of 100% pure black metal nastiness that takes aim for the jugular, and on “Will Is The Only Fire Under An Avalanche,” they break out more disjointed leads and then settle into a rollicking doom midsection that makes for an excellent highlight. They close things on a fantastically hyperactive note with “A Dead Galaxy Mirrored In An Icy Mirage” a quick and clean blast of a tune that would set the ears of almost any Absu fan on fire, bringing to mind the gnashing rawness of Pestilence & Peril with a newfound serrated edge.
Not only does Into The Cryosphere impress me with the songwriting, the solid production, and all those white-hot primitive black metal riffs, they don’t leave me drained and burned out wondering if I enjoyed what I just listened to or not. There’s an ugliness to these compositions that isn’t exactly unattractive, and though it is abusive and frequently heartless, there’s also a downplayed depth to the music this duo perform so damn well, and with so little needless melodrama. While it’s no replacement for Thralldom, nor is it intended to be, The Howling Wind is an excellent choice if you’re in the mood for something along the lines of Dragged Into Sunlight, but just can’t subject yourself to such a profound ear-raping. A highly valued find, and they better stick around for a while.
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