Review Summary: "Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows" exists for those who weren't already aware that Howls of Ebb are the best death metal act currently making music.
"Sully your minds by attempting to explain what the sounds of The Sour Bogs of Mars spilling upon vapid flesh is like; or perhaps, wondering if its possible to explain the sound of psychic cadence bombing your deep synapse?"
That's an actually line from the promotional materials handed out for Howls of Ebb's second record, Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
. Full of "incorporeal fetid and morbid darkness," the band surrounds itself with a high level of questionably tongue in cheek insanity. Howls of Ebb occupy a strange existential place where you aren't sure how "aware" they are of their own absurdity. Album titles like Vigils of the Third Eye
are so excruciatingly "metal" in their approach that it feels like some rabbit hole of schlock pretentiousness. It all seeks to undermine the fact that Howls of Ebb are simply one of the most fascinating death metal acts currently making music.
Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
takes the best parts of Howls of Ebb's twisted and psychedelic EP, The Marrow Veil
and packages it in the same manner as their debut. Cursus Impasse
, because of this, exists as a morbid and confounding experiment compartmentalized into a traditional death metal record. Songs have relatively clear begins that give way to standard structures. It's clean and tight and oddly enough it works. Some might bemoan that Howls of Ebb didn't craft another set of songs that fell like a fireball into the abyss. Some might be turned off by the set of seven pieces that tie together but exist separately. Understandable, but Howls of Ebb present their music in a way that is both startling challenging and heinously fun.
The series of vignettes that Howls of Ebb have created allows the band to experiment in microcosms, rather than in long form. The opening track, "The 6th Octopul'th Grin" hurdles forth as menacing and scornful piece of raw metal; an explosive introduction that belies the existence of the multifaceted work yet to come. After all, the band dips into strange and winding bouts of doom and psychedlia quite often. Their signature sound ensures that it's as eerie and unsettling as possible, though, which only fuels the strange atmosphere surrounding the album.
Howls of Ebb have never been a death metal band that adhered to "riffs" as their method of attack. When they do manage to throw a catchy guitar line in there, it never really hits hard. The riffs don't fall flat, but rather, skirt alongside the swirling sounds that threaten to consume them. What they do manage is to make an infectious slab of death metal with tracks like "Cabals of Molder" and "Subliminal Lock." These tracks are perfectly written, bruised only slightly by a production that feels somewhat hollow in parts.
Howls of Ebb cannot be given enough praise for what they've manage to accomplish in only a few short years. Topping themselves with a perfect concoction of their first two releases, the band has made an immense and incredibly work of death metal with their sophomore album. It's a bold and winding masterwork of metal that shows how keenly aware the band is to every little facet of the genre. Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
is an album that needs to be heard.