HowlBrace your ears and prepare to get your Doom on with the second full length release from Providence Rhode Island’s own Howl!  Care of the ever heavy Relapse Records, a label that seems to specialise in bands that are never less then 100% full on in your face, this new album Bloodlines fulfils that criteria perfectly.

First track ‘Attrition’ punches out of the speakers with a speed that few Doom bands approach, opening up the throttle with an almost thrash guitar riff that keeps the sound dark with lower tones.  When the lyrics growl through, the vocals manage to be both guttural and sludge laden, yet with each word discernible through the snarl, the images of death and nightmares adding to hellish atmosphere.  This is no mean feat, and I applaud it.  ‘Midnight Eyes’ builds on the solid foundation of the first track, the pace initially being slower, but nowhere near the funereal pace of other bands labelled with the Doom tag.  Indeed, with some occasionally fast solos and a concerted twin guitar attack, along with the artillery barrage drums, Howl should appeal across a wide swath of metal fans, although lovers of 80’s hairspray glam wouldn’t necessarily be a the target audience!

‘Demonic’ and ‘One Last Nail’ keep up the pace and energy, with some classic NWOBHM tinged riffing and soloing over a punk tinged rhythm section.  This fast attack is contrasted by ‘Down So Low’, a song that starts out with a pace of a zombie dragging its rotten feet across a post apocalypse wasteland, an undead beast that suddenly sprints in for the kill in the blasting riff of ‘Your Hell Begins’, a track that should appeal to even the fans of the most extreme metal with its screamed delivery and buzzsaw riffs, yet still having lyrics that only those with ears weakened by too much exposure to pop pap would fail to make out.

Howl plays with a power and energy that is hard not to admire, with influences that go beyond a single sub genre; to simply label Howl as pure Doom is to potentially limit their appeal.  I’ve no doubt if you’re a fan of High On Fire or Electric Wizard, this would be an excellent addition to your library.  That said their sound should equally have the heads of Iron Maiden fans and corpse painted true metal warriors banging alike.

(8/10 Spenny)