Howl Bloodlines

Howl Bloodlines
6
Boy do I ever want to love Howl, and I try, but there's always something preventing me from feeling too close to them. In theory, I should love a group that flirt with stoner, sludge and doom, but aren't afraid to just get full-on metal when the time is right. Here, on their second full-length, the problem is that the grooves start to venture too close to bar-band Pantera territory, like on "With a Blade," which also brings doom masters Cathedral to mind. There are black metal overtones throughout, like on "Your Hell Begins," then a tune such as "The Mouth of Madness" brings to mind tech-prog juggernauts Mastodon. There's much to enjoy, but it just doesn't add up, despite the fact that an awesome band are lurking underneath it all. I suspect these guys are going to drop an album that will crush all soon enough, and we'll look back on this early material as their formative years. (Relapse)