Full Of Hell
posted on 5/2010 By:
It seems like Relapse has been trolling the underground sludge scene for awhile now trying to replace Mastodon. Even hitting Mastodon’s Savannah, Georgia pipeline for Baroness (who I have a sneaking suspicion will need to be replaced soon also) and Black Tusk as well as Rhode Island’s Howl. Even down to the adorned logo and artwork, these acts have been signed to fill Mastodon’s mantle, and while with their sludgy and angular throes, Howl are certainly full of hell, they don’t leave much of a lasting impression.
While certainly a dirtier and more muscular take on the now commonly aped Mastodon and Kylesa sound, although not as inherently southern or bluesy, Howl gives it their best shot with heaving, gravelly guitars, gruff but distant vocals, a steady, lurching percussive assault and a presence that’s full of conviction and also shares traits with High On Fire. In fact, "High On Fire meets Mastodon" is a pretty viable description, maybe with a hint of Lair of the Minotaur.
But that’s about it, because as much as I wanted to like Full of Hell and its gritty honesty (if at least to fit in with the fair amount of buzz this act is generating in the media), the truth is the band isn’t the sum of their parts, despite being undoubtedly ‘metal.’ Sure, they rumble and roar with a dark, grimy edge and a sultry, surly sense of angular heft, but the truth is that none of the songs came across as remarkably memorable, and I’ve heard it before with all the bands already mentioned. Even when the band flirts with some more melodic Baroness-styled mood or builds (“Asherah”, “Heavenless”), it simply reminds of their influences more than a stand-alone act. Only “The Scorpion’s Last Sting” struck a chord with me, but that’s 7 tracks in, and ten minute closer “The Day of Rest” has some promise but simply does not hold my attention for the duration, especially after the creepy-crawling mid section.
It's possible this act grows on me, as Baroness did, but then again, I’m one of the few people that thinks Mastodon and Kylesa (and initially Baroness) are rather overrated, so my relative apathy towards Howl is somewhat explicable. I’m sure this act will blow up and move on to great things, as apparently my thinking a band is overrated works out for them, so you are welcome, Howl (and maybe Black Tusk).
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