By Adrien Begrand
Normally the hyperbolic phrase, “They’re like a combination of Mastodon and High on Fire!” wouldn’t generate very much excitement among metal writers who have to listen to countless American bands that, when not churning out pointless exercises in deathcore, more often than not sound exactly like Mastodon and/or High on Fire, but upon hearing their debut EP, it quickly becomes apparent that Relapse signees Howl actually have a good thing going. The Rhode Island band makes no apologies when it comes to their influences, either, the three tracks clearly drawing from Remission and Surrounded By Thieves, accentuating their sludge with a traditional heavy metal swagger. Most impressively, though, there’s some genuine songwriting skill here, from the contagious, menacing “And the Gnawing” (the line “I bet a dial tone never felt quite so warm” an effectively chilling touch), to the Slayer-esque hook in “Kings That Steal”‘s main riff, to the pulverizing drumming and Melvins-inspired coda in “Oma”. At barely 15 minutes, it’s an all-too brief preview, but that’s all it takes to instantly establish Howl as a band to watch for in late-’09 and 2010. Bring on that full-length.