It was not so long ago that I was introduced to limbonic black/death metallers Howls of Ebb (HoB), with the band just a few months back releasing their The Marrow Veil EP, opening up new mystical dimensions filled with their malicious intent. The EP featured all the raw quality of the act, coupled with their atmospheric passages, captured in two very long tracks and a short interlude. The return with their newest album, Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows sees HoB carrying on the same direction, but in a condensed dosage.
The concept of HoB lies on two pillars. That was the case with The Marrow Veil, and so holds true to Cursus Impasse. On one hand, there is the extreme black/death edge. A coordinated assault, coming from a very primal source and with an old-school attitude. It is the main driving force in this record, with the solos proving as much, containing a fair amount of the dissonance, unpredictability and explosiveness of proto-death and thrash, fitting in perfectly with their constant pummeling and soaring riffs. The record visits many phases and manifestations of this animalistic sound, from the fundamental black/death start of “Cabals of Molder,” to the maze of torments in “Maat Mons Fume,” the unbalanced “7 Ascetic Cinders, 8 Dowries of gA’nOm” and the chaotic overtones of “Subliminal Lock – A Precursor to Vengeance,” on its infernal path.
Label: I-Voidhanger Records
The second layer of HoB is their tendency to construct atmospheric portals within their brutal concepts. At one moment, they will be mercilessly unveiling their primitive self, then suddenly dropping it all for an even more horrific appearance. This was also prominent in The Marrow Veil, but in the case of Cursus Impasse, its effect has been enhanced. The duration of the tracks is much shorter than the tracks on the EP, allowing for a more cyclothymic result. The slithering bass line of the opening track provides an intriguing and terrifying break from the chaos that just ensued, while the slow start of “Cabals of Molder” increase the effect of the devastating blast that soon follows.
What is gained from all this is an overall otherworldly, cryptic essence that rises to the surface. HoB do not possess just a primordial black/death approach, but with alongside it an ancient, ritualistic quality as well. The towering results that this combination is able to achieve are smeared all over this record, from the overwhelming, hazy tone of “Maat Mons’ Fume” and the dissonant element of “7 Ascetic” with its eerie transmission of cosmic messages, to the complete ambient interlude of “Gaunt Vertigo.”
Cursus Impasse sees HoB perfecting their concepts. In the album, the different sides existing within their musical identity are more cohesive, the result more devastating. It will be really interesting to see whether they will further indulge within their most atmospheric side in the future, but for now, they have a great record in Cursus Impasse.