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Generation Of Vipers - "Howl And Filth" (CD)

Generation Of Vipers - "Howl And Filth" CD cover image

"Howl And Filth" track listing:

1. Ritual (7:52)
2. Silent Shroud (6:32)
3. All Of This Is Mine (2:55)
4. Eternal (4:08)
5. Slow Burn (7:58)
6. The Misery Coil (9:09)

Reviewed by on July 3, 2012

"There’s complexity beneath the raw dissonance that smacks the listener in the face, and repeated listens uncover this distinction."

Generation Of Vipers is the project featuring drummer B.J. Graves, who is better known for his stints with A Storm Of Light and U.S. Christmas (USX). This band is much more like the former band, though with less grandiose ideals and more noisy sludge. Their third album, “Howl And Filth,” has its fierce points, and its eerie, atmospheric lulls as well. Comparisons to Neurosis and Isis are understandable, though not completely accurate for “Howl And Filth.” There’s complexity beneath the raw dissonance that smacks the listener in the face, and repeated listens uncover this distinction.

Instead of forcing its power onto the listener, these songs bubble with anticipation. The rhythms reign supreme in the early portion of “Ritual,” acting as a catalyst for the spine-chilling riffs that explode a few minutes in. No title better describes its song than “Slow Burn”; a caustic smattering of distortion that is in no rush to land the death blow. The instrumental portion does this job, letting Joshua Holt’s vocals come across as a non-entity due to how deep in the background they are.

While the band is very blunt in their approach throughout most of “Howl And Filth,” there are some subtle nods to less narrow-minded techniques. “All Of This Is Mine” is a piano-led instrumental befitting of the album, though it would seem far-reaching for any other band to pull off. “Eternal” is what constitutes “normality” to the band, as a four-minute tune that could pick up steam on satellite radio or Internet radio stations.

Unlike past albums, none of the songs hit double digits. That, along with the album clocking in at under 40 minutes, avoids “Howl And Filth” exposing too much of a good thing. “The Misery Coil” gets close to unraveling near its end. After a solemn intro of strings and light feedback, which give off an “unofficial sequel” feel to “All Of This Is Mine,” the band pushes out seven minutes of blood-sucking misery that never lets up until the guitars echo into the fading outro. As a closer, it comes off as just another track, instead of a noteworthy finish.

Though the vocals are buried in the mix and some ideas are dragged out a hair too long, “Howl And Filth” avoids descending into cringe-worthy sludge. With the help of Kurt Ballou slapping his unique production on the album, this is a lightning rod that strikes at the primitive fears within each listener. Generation Of Vipers has been lying low for years, and their past two albums barely registered for many, but “Howl And Filth” has the chance to not be a three-peat.

Highs: Spine-chilling riffs, atmospheric touches open the songs up, short and to-the-point

Lows: Vocals don't have much power to them in the mix, some songs have the tendency to stretch their ideas too far

Bottom line: A solid third album from Generation Of Vipers that will appeal to sludge/doom fans.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)