When Howl emerged in 2010 with ‘Full of Hell’, they were hailed as one of the most vicious and aggressive sounding doom bands to emerge for a long time. Not that there’s a shortage of bands doing grim, nasty things with the genre, but that album indelibly left a mark which left people hungry for more. Yet with ‘Bloodlines’, it seems Howl weren’t content to rest on their laurels and have shifted tack somewhat, heading for not exactly radio-friendly territories, but certainly a move towards a more mainstream end of aggressive heavy metal.
By this perhaps I am creating slightly the wrong impression in saying that, but though they haven’t sacrificed all their slow flourishes, ‘Bloodlines’ is much more of a straightforward heavy metal album, with some undeniably cracking riffs, and largely excellent songs with smatterings of speed and trudge in equal measure. The bombastic punch of ‘Midnight Eyes’ and the ominous ‘Down So Low’ are particular highlights either side of these parallels, though lyrically it comes across quite cheesy and uninspired on more than one occasion – ‘Your Hell Begins’ one particular culprit with a not wholly bad but atypical metal chorus. There’s still room for improvement, especially given how they initially impacted with ‘Full of Hell’, with nothing really standing apart from that album or from other bands . But overlooking this minor gripe, fans of the riff will no doubt welcome this latest effort – its not bringing anything new but it at least backs itself up through its raw power, and through Howl’s certain conviction in the end product, you can expect at the very least an enjoyable guitarfest from beginning to end.
Buy/download ‘Bloodlines’ here
Stream it below: