Howls of Ebb is a relatively new band in the black/death extreme subgenre. The band released their debut album, Vigils of the 3rd Eye, back in 2014 through I, Voidhanger, which is also releasing the follow-up EP, The Marrow Veil. Where the debut album of the band was a relentless assault towards any possible direction or dimension, The Marrow Veil encompasses a more structured and strategical approach from HoE. That does not mean that the band leaves behind their chaotic nature, do not worry that is still here. It just seems like everything was more thoroughly worked out, resulting in a more mature offering. A more methodical and precise coordinated assault, if you will.
The album is quite unbalanced, but that is an alluring quality in this instance. What first greets you is a more ambient approach from the band, slowly forming as the opening track, “Standing In Bedlam, Burning In Bliss” is brought forth. Once the initial atmosphere has settled with the aid of a voice sample the ceremonial can begin. The ritualistic vibe overflows, as the sparse sounds and eerie vocals point towards that direction, awakening a horrific moment, an inescapable nightmare-like instance of pure malice. That aspect of the sound is resumed a few times in the same track, resulting in the loss of material form from the music and the rise of a piercing sonic background. “Iron Laulels, Woven In Rust” also features some of the ambient qualities of the band, building anticipation and showcasing the volatility of the music.
The bread and butter for Howls of Ebb, though, is their black/death core. The opening track features a strange, mutated doom vision of death, resulting in a weird hybrid that is difficult to define. The part seems completely blasphemous, but its quality is undeniable, while the old-school vibe is present. HoB switch their black/death in a couple of instances through the nineteen minutes of this song, resulting in parts that are more thunderous, with a mid-pace groove to them, or taking on the death metal mantle and proudly going to war with it. They even unleash more poisonous tendencies in the final minutes of the track, retaining their thundering perspective while getting even slower in the process. On the other hand, with “Iron Laurels, Woven In Rust” they reveal their frantic personification, as the drums go to work and the band conjuring a very heavy and twisted, and always old-school, aspect of their music. The closing track even includes moments when the band reaches an underlying majestic peak, with a more grand and imposing outlook radiating, as the destruction rages on.
Label:I, Voidhanger Records
From that point on, there are a couple of augmentations that HoE manage to perform on their music. The first is the inclusion of certain leads that steer the music towards a more blackened path. That is the case with moments in “Iron Laurels, Woven In Rust,” as the shorter leads throw a veil of darkness over the track. The track even begins with that darkened perspective, radiating a more bleak and damned aspect from HoB. The more distinct part though is those stomach turning crystalline guitar parts in “Standing In Bedlam, Burning In Bliss.” The sound is quite difficult to take in and its repetition on a number of occasions within the track becomes quite challenging.
The second addition of HoB, to their musical structure, is their chaotic tendencies. The opening track features a plethora of instances where the structure becomes more loose, and the destruction crosses boundaries to an all-devouring form. Even though the band retain the steady pace, what happens on top of that is quite astounding and unpredictable. There are moments when the chaos takes on a primal form, as happens in the final two minutes of the EP, with the aggression resulting in a total devastation, and then there are parts when chaos gives way to abstraction. The final couple of minutes of the opening song are such an instance, giving a certain uncertainty about what horrific vision might come to life in just a split of a second. The main force behind this characteristic of the band is their lead work, of course, which includes a heavy dose of dissonance in order to spread the chaos.
Then you have the parts that cannot be categorized. Simple as that. Calling a track such as “Dusks Tyrannical Lore” insane is the only way to describe what occurs within the song. It is not unpredictability, but rather a complete crazed instance. Its structure is just so weird and feels to be twisted beyond redemption, with the eerie aura and deep vocals soon rendering the song insufferable.
HoB have a great feel for how black/death should be played. They do not rely just on the aggression and speed of the genre, but instead they seem to be critically approaching it. Their music in The Marrow Veil reveals their perspective on the genre, including its darkness, chaos, heaviness, groove, unpredictability and overall horrific element.