17 May 2016
The Howling Void - The Triumph of Ruin
The Howling Void.... I will be honest; they are not a name that I have heard before (although our blogger Luke has told me he has heard of them before). The press release is very sparse, as is the line up; this is a one-man project by a man called Ryan (or R as advised on the Howling Void Facebook page). This album was released in March 2016, following on from last EP called 'Runa'. I have to say, that cover is a stark and harrowing image; it is a fitting image for a band that is described as funeral doom, the person on horseback, looking over an unforgiving landscape.
“Lords of Barren Fields” starts the album with a mixture of clear notes and a suitably crushing bass/guitar riff placed over drifting keyboards. The song itself is a great piece of Doom laden metal, very much in the style of My Dying Bride and Cult of Luna. It is a seven minute plus epic that swirls around you, the bells toll in the background every now and then, you know - just to add the drama of the piece. It might sound like I am being flippant, but I actually like this song. It has the correct amount of doom, a pinch of black metal and it sounds as if the world is going to hell and the party has taken a bit of a downward turning. "The Looming Darkness" continues the high standard of the first piece, it has a dramatic flair to the guitar tone to this piece from the very beginning. It mixes so well with the synths and drumming, but you can also hear an emptiness to the song at this point; there are spaces behind the notes that are not to be filled, it has a noticeable absence of something which gives the song a sense of loss and abandonment. I like that from this song, it is in the shadow of something and the drone nature of certain passages of this song give it a lynch pin for my brain. "The Nine Worlds Wept" begins with a piano being played in the void, a violin sound starts to stir and slow the rest of the instruments join in on this march to the graveside. It repeats a little bit, but as this song is an instrumental track you can expect that a little. It is a good song, but to be honest you will have to be deeply into your doom metal to stay with this track. It is beautifully played, but it is one that will not appeal to the majority of people. However, as this genre is not for the general masses, it is for the people that will ruminate of every little note and give their time to every pitch. I like the song, but I prefer the other tracks that are on offer here.
"Fenrir" starts the second half of this album and it is still as black as the forest at midnight at this point, the music has not really changed in pace too much. This song is a mixture of harsh tones, medieval chord patterns, the sounds of water running in the background and atmospheric synths being brought to the forefront when required. It is a good song, but a change in pace would not have gone amiss at this point. "Where Once a River Flowed" is the penultimate track on this album, it is also the longest number on the album and the song I have gone backwards and forward on the most out of the six songs on offer. The pace on this song is slower than anything that has gone before, it is truly monolithic in terms of tone. It rarely raises above slow drone to be honest, there are a lot of atmospheric, moody sections and synths to make the world that shade of black where mercy is gone and hope is fleeting. I have gone from hating it, to loving it and everything in-between; but I cannot make my mind on it. It is an enigma that keeps on changing, which means I will probably love it in a few months’ times (or hate it, it is a strange beast this song). Ending the album is "Silence After the Storm", which leave the distortion to the side and emphasise the lighter side of the band. It is a fitting ending to the album, ending with a sense of coming through a harrowing event and the calm that does settle after all the emotion baggage has gone. The naturalistic feeling to this track is its biggest calling card, it gives the band another shade to their sound and it is one that I would hope they explore in the future.
Cards on the table time then: this album is a good piece of doom metal, it has enough about it to warrant repeated plays and you do invest in the record. But it is very much typical of the genre as well, it is an album that will appeal to fans of doom metal and that is about it. But that is not to say that it does not have positives about it, the songs never lose focus and they are well played. I also like the mixture of natural sounds to the music, it gives the album an organic feeling that enhances the music. Whilst it might not be something I could pick up every day, it is definitely something I would recommend to people asking for some new doom in their lives.
7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top track - The Looming Darkness
You can purchase The Triumph of Ruin on Amazon here
You can purchase The Triumph of Ruin (as well as other releases from The Howling Void) on their Bandcamp page
You can follow the activities of The Howling Void on Facebook here
You can stream The Triumph of Ruin on Spotify here
You can stream The Triumph of Ruin on Deezer here
You can stream The Triumph of Ruin on Tidal here
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