Review Summary: Yet again The Howling Wind puts forth another unique album that takes elements of Black Metal and melds them with dark,murky and all around intense sounds and ideas giving us one of the most unique releases of 2012 so far.
A lot can be said of Ryan Lipynski and his ability as a musician what with being associated with many well respected acts such as Unearthly Trance and Thralldom being his two most notable projects and like with any act he is associated with it is clear Ryan Lipynski always has a clear vision for whatever project he is dealing with at the time and The Howling Wind is no exception.Although the idea of creating a progressive Black Metal sound has been toyed with many times in the past again and again throughout the years no band has really done it quiet like The Howling Winds.With the band's previous album "Into The Cryosphere" you got a sense that the band was staying true to playing straight up Black Metal but was also trying to create a very claustrophobic atmosphere surrounding its presence.Although from the very start of "Of Babalon" it's clear that the band takes a very clear approach that the style they are playing is indeed Black Metal but there is so much more going on here then just the apparent.With many different tempo changes ranging from being Black Metal blast beats and traditional tremolo picked guitars to being at some points punk rock oriented and even having a slight Death Metal groove put here and there it takes the listen on a roller coaster ride of different sounds and ideas giving the album a very murky and, like the predecessor to this album, a chaotic and claustrophobic feeling.
For the most part the one sound that will probably be at the forefront stick out the most to the listener will be the guitars.Although the guitars do use the use of tremolo picked guitar chords and riffs throughout "Of Babalon" they do change up quit a bit like on the beginning of the fourth track "Scaling The Walls" wear the tempo slows down giving you a breather after the three previous tracks had just got done beating you into submission until finally the track switches back to being brutal again.Another great example of guitar changes is on the track "The Mountain View" were the song pretty much does what the title suggests were the guitars start off being very droney and ring out for the first two minutes and is almost like slowly climbing a musical mountain until finally you almost reach the top but the band pushes you back down the mountain side when the sound escalates to it's breaking point.On that same track towards the middle of the song it has a punk rock feel to it with the instruments breaking from the Black Metal approach and speeding things up almost in the same vain as Unearthly Trance had experimented with on their past efforts.While most of the tracks on here are great the best and most noticeably experimental piece would be "Abominations and Filth" where the band slows the tempo down and melds this with a very nice and fiery guitar solo and the track ends almost as if it explodes like a bomb with a cloud of noisy distortion.
The drums on this album,while not the most technical or flashy playing ever heard,do serve their purpose well with Tim Call's playing being very straight and to the point but also adding some very nice variation to the songs on here like on the song "Choronzon" accenting the guitars and bass very well.The drums also add to the atmosphere nicely as well like on the hidden bonus track were the drums are very loud and prominent until they start to speed up and go off into a punk rock-ish tangent yet again.Though the bass is pretty audible for the most part it doesn't really play a huge part on this album but that doesn't take a whole lot away from the intensity and brutality this album produces and if your not looking for it you will probably not even notice it's there.
Though the instruments and the sounds on here are really great it's the lyrics and the very complex and obscure nature of the concept of this album as well that adds to the intriguing vibe of this album.Mainly the lyrics tell the story of The Scarlet Lady(Babalon,The Great Mother,etc.) who was created by writer and occultist Aleister Crowley (The Great Beast666) in his book "The Book Of The Law" who is described as being the gateway the City of Pyramids and the mistress to The Great Beast (i.e. the devil).The lyrics describe the very long and complex journey through the world of Aleister Crowley and The Scarlet Lady and at some points the lyrics can be a bit brainy but the way Ryan Lipynsky delivers them is very passionate and his vocals just add to that very dark,murky and claustrophobic feel as described earlier.
Although you will find elements you've heard before many times in Black Metal,"Of Babalon", and The Howling Wind in general, present those elements with a slew of fresh and new ideas that are sure to not disappoint.Whether you are looking for something unique and different in the whole Black Metal scene or if your just a fan of heavy and very intense sounding music and your just looking for something new and a little different then what you have been hearing or digging lately you are sure to find something very unique and special with this release.