Review: Howls Of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
National Music Reviews
Howls Of Ebb
Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
Howls Of Ebb = Beherit x Behold… The Arctopus
Howls Of Ebb are an interesting group from San Francisco and a top competitor for having the most illegible logo in extreme metal history. I’ll concede that I like the logo: It’s unique and fits the obscure, really-fucking-out-there nature of the group like a smelly glove. Who wants legible, anyway? Have you seen Xasthur’s logo? Do you even Bestial Summoning, bro?!
Anyways, Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows is, in a word, crazy. In a sentence, it’s sheer fucking insanity, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. The unprepared listener might get a headache if they take it all in one sitting like I did. The album has a groovy, free-form death/black metal thing going on that’s liable to change tempos at the drop of a pin, and you’re probably liable to drop anything if you’ve got this album playing. Trying to make sense of it is like trying to make sense of an insane asylum wall lined with excretion-smeared inscriptions that some maniac used for summoning nameless, forgotten demons. This is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve had to write, because there’s so much going on from one moment to the next—and I love this type of shit, if that tells you anything. The songs are longer with the exception of a haunting interlude (“Gaunt Vertigo”), and I’m quite impressed that the band can remember the song structures. They almost seem improvised, but somehow, I know that they aren’t. There’s too much skill involved for it to have been made up on the spot, and there are the lyrics to prove that it’s all set in stone (yes, the words are completely batshit as well). The guitars are competent and play disharmonic, discomforting riffs that require knowledge of “normal” chords and “conventionality” in order to avoid these overrated concepts. Said guitars often take a break and give way to bizarre bass and drum passages that clunk along like a possessed mammoth whose path tramples our fragile sense of reality. The vocals are versatile: growling in low pitches at times, speaking ominously at others and rapidly following the insane beat changes with shrill spats of glass-shard-projectile precision.
I’ll try to paint you a picture. If you were consolidating the electric bill, and needed to get the portion from your roommates Primus and Blasphemy, but you accidently walked into their bedroom while they were having some sort of messed-up, Satanic BDSM threesome with the embodiment of all that is illogical, it would invoke the same feeling you get after the last song ends. I’m confident that HOE’s intention lies within the madness of the songs. The band is more than capable of making tunes that would be more palatable to wusses. I, for one, am glad that some people (Howls Of Ebb) maintain dignity and confidence in their creativity and use their middle fingers to respond to those who might offer advice on how to gain a wider audience. Respect. I can fully get behind tormenting people aurally. Going out of your way to please others with your music results in shittiness and mediocrity, both of which Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows avoids entirely (go ahead and add “sane” to that list as well). –Alex Coulombe