HowlsIf we can, for a moment, try to divide the output of the extreme metal scene into the good, the bad and the downright ugly, there is absolutely no question that that Howls of Ebb fall headlong into the foul mud and foetid grime of the third category. To say Vigils of the 3rd Eye grabs your attention would be an understatement. Its more that it lumbers towards you, slavering from its leering maw  and infecting the very ground on which it walks. Simply standing in the path of its shambling, discordantly reverberating advance is enough to make you feel that whatever gods of law and order forged this reality are losing their grip. While you sweat and shiver as its disease envelops your frame, you have no alternative but to give yourself up to the sickness. And, as with all chaos, the more you gaze upon it and the more it wraps itself around you, the more it begins to make sense to your distorted senses.

Howls of Ebb is the bastard son of death and black metal but without any hint of the blackened death that might suggest. More like something much looser and to the far left of Beherit or The Ruins of Beverast with buzzing guitars that are so down-tuned they almost compete head on with the baselines. But in reality, Howls of Ebb is to both those genres what Motörhead was to thrash metal. So much on a path of its own that comparisons are a little hard to come by even if it is tempting to offer them up. It’s got black edges most definitely but it’s also very sweaty and unkempt, in the final analysis, just dirty, dirty heavy metal. Tracks like The Arc, The Vine, The Blight, throw up plenty of skull-pan shaking flat notes and have a complete lack of regard for convention that make Vigils refreshing. But the clattering and blaring of songs like Martian Terrors Limbonic Steps and Of Heel, Cyst And Lung gradually begins to peel back after a couple of spins and Howls of Ebb begin to reveal their purpose. Vigils of the 3rd Eye, as the song itself demonstrates, is purely and simply about projecting another plane of reality into your brain.

The last three tracks, including the title track and then close to 20 minutes of pure, deconstructed death metal groove plunge you into a mesh of carefully organised bedlam. An intriguing cacophony in which you can hear every snare, bassline twang and breathless growth from singer zEleFthANd (no, I did not just slump onto my keyboard in an adjective-induced seizure, that is his name – otherwise known as Patrick Brown…). In short, Vigils is something to behold, if you can bear to stare long enough. A growing sore that you will eventually scratch and pick at in ignorance of its deeper corruptive effect. What I mean to say is: don’t blame me if everything else sounds a bit rubbish after you manage to switch it off again.

(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)