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Howl - "Full Of Hell" (CD)

Howl - "Full Of Hell" CD cover image

"Full Of Hell" track listing:

1. Horns of Steel (3:27)
2. You Jackals Beware (5:35)
3. Gods In Broken Men (3:13)
4. Asherah (1:08)
5. Jezebel (4:25)
6. Heavenless (5:33)
7. The Scorpion's Last Sting (5:52)
8. Parish of the Obscene (4:04)
9. The Day of Rest (10:18)

Reviewed by on July 8, 2010

"I can’t believe how monotonous 'Full of Hell' is, and can only hope that they pull it together for the next one."

For those of us who enjoyed Howl’s excellent but painfully brief 2008 self-titled EP, I think the general consensus for listeners would be that three tracks wasn’t nearly enough Howl. Two years later, Howl has released their debut full length, aptly titled “Full of Hell.” Following their familiar formula of crunchy, sludgy riffs, aggressive vocals and cymbal heavy drumming, Howl doesn’t do much to deviate from the sound they have established on their EP. This acts as somewhat of a double edged sword for the band. Nearly everything on this album is solid, but “Full of Hell” is definitely not a perfect or even memorable album.

To start with the solid things: the riffs are nice, crunchy and well played, while the production quality is right where it needs to be; just heavy enough to retain rawness and just clear enough to be palatable. The occasional solos and leads work well, the drumming is just as technical and splashy as it was before, and the instruments are mixed together perfectly.

Howl has changed a bit within the last two years; the guitar work overall has a bit more groove than it did on the last album and even have a bit more of a traditional doom sound in sections, but overall, “Full of Hell” is the same Howl as before. Granted, this is good in that they are sticking with a sound that works for them and not trying too hard to stand out, but I think it may be a case of the band still trying to fully develop their sound.

While all the right factors are present for a great album, I regrettably must say that “Full of Hell” drags. A lot. The occasional melody thrown in breaks up the music a little bit, but this album, especially in the first half, just never seems to end. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way. The songs aren’t very long at all, but because Howl doesn’t transition a lot in the riffs and doesn’t add a lot of variety, “Full of Hell” tends to get boring. Songs like “Jezebel” and “Gods in Broken Men” just keep plodding on, hammering the same riffs over and over again to utter exhaustion. Occasionally, a lead or drawn out solo will provide some respite, but inevitably, the song returns to the same old riff played out throughout the rest of the track. It’s rare that I feel like I’ve been listening to the same song for ten minutes and look up and realize that the track is only four minutes long. I will say that “Full of Hell” picks up a bit in the second half and that “Heavenless” is a great song, but overall, this album is rather dull.

I, for one, was excited to see where Howl would go after their EP. I really wanted to see how they were going to develop their sound. Unfortunately, develop they didn’t. It seems as though they were erring somewhat on the side of caution. While having a patented “sound” is a good thing, I would have loved to hear them experiment a bit on this album. I can’t believe how monotonous “Full of Hell” is, and can only hope that they pull it together for the next one.

Highs: "Heavenless" is a great track

Lows: Dull and monotonous, Howl needs to let loose and try something new.

Bottom line: Greatly anticipated after their self-titled EP, this album is a disappointment.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)