I'm sure we would all agree on the fact that it's quite hard or almost impossible nowadays to find a (extreme) Metal band that manages to do something original, even remotely personal. You can find more bands than ever, you can choose the exact sub-genre you want to listen to and find dozens of records within it, but listening to an album and having that feeling you could have twenty years ago each time a new album came out, that's another thing. Fortunately, from time to time you end up discovering a band like Howls of Ebb, and feel like you had traveled back in time to those old times when copy-cats were complicated to find despite the fact that everything was so purely primitive and raw.
I must admit I didn't pay much attention to Howls of Ebb first album when it was released back in 2014, probably due to that vast amount of records appearing every day, or maybe because the time I chose to listen to it wasn't the most suitable given their bizarre sound, although I remember thinking this band had a lot of potential after just one or two listens. And I didn't even check their following MLP, 'The Marrow Veil'. So when 'Cursus Impasse' was announced I decided it was a question of now or never, I had to spend some time giving the proper attention to this record and finally getting an opinion on their music, be it good or bad, or I simply forgot the band. I was quite fortunate to choose the first option, because this record is so far plain and simply (as well as easily) my favorite extreme Metal release of 2016 (at least when I'm writing this).
They should already have some winning points due to the fact that one of the driving forces under this creature is Patrick Brown, who used to play in Nepenthe ('Ligeia' is still one of those items I'm proud to have in my collection), battle-brothers of Order from Chaos in Kansas, and the band where Alex Blume from Ares Kingdom started growling. And I need to say I still find some remains of that demented and psychotic way of playing Mr. Brown had in his first band, although Howls of Ebb is way more complex that Nepenthe. In fact, one of the most surprising things of this record is how well they manage that complexity in terms of atmosphere, feeling and aggression. The feeling that everything is straight and simple but having at the same time a second reading.
As I commented above, 'Cursus Impasse' made me travel to that era when Death Metal was some sort of experimental style yet, when everyone wanted to be darker, rawer and more brutal and diabolic, when it reeked of mysticism and evil feeling. Because 'Cursus Impasse' is, above all, a Death Metal record, a savage one, which makes you immediately think about the first days of the genre, when it just came out of the deepest pits and unleashed darkness on earth through demons such as Morbid Angel, Necrovore, Incubus (Fl) or the Nocturnus demos. That raw aspect, that unpolished brutality, those demoniac riffs which are kind of simple and straight to the point but enormously twisted. The insane execution is here too. Although everything is build up in a way that could very well match the visions of more recent bands who, as well as Howls of Ebb, have managed to give the style a better rebirth than the ones who just decide to mimic their old heroes. Including influences from musical genre outside of the Metal sphere that they manage to incredibly adhere to their sound without contaminating it.
Let's just say Howls of Ebb could be the savage brother of spawns such as Portal, Chaos Echoes, Antediluvian, Teitanblood or even (the latest) Gorguts (on certain technical details), after a night of partying under the spell of some old Kraut and Industrial bands. Because the Death Metal basis of their sound has a slight dose of cold and monotonous rhythmic, a very atmospheric approach (specially when they lower the tempo) and amazing details and arrangements, as could be the kind of tribal percussion on 'Cabals of Molder', a track which makes me think a lot about how Aluk Todolo use repetitions in order to imbue your brain with a perfect trance.
Put the record on the turntable, spin the needle, look at the amazingly grotesque work Agostino Arrivabene did on the cover and drown into absolute madness.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.