Not all bands find the need to expand and push their own boundaries, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Consistency and your audience knowing what to expect from you can foster a lot of goodwill and a lack of bad feelings from those who consume your music. It’s smart business. But that’s also not for everyone, which is a reason metal has become so diverse.
It’s not like The Howling Wind is recreating anything with their new self-recorded EP “Oak,” but for them, it’s showing an even more expansive mind frame that could get pretty fucking exciting if this is an indication as to where things are going. Its two members—Ryan Lipynsky (guitar, bass, vocals, synth, noise) and Tim Call (drums, vocals, noise)—remain committed to elements of black metal and doom in their music, but with the heavier contributions from their ghostly synth, the music goes to a different level that can chill you to the bone. These four tracks that stretch over 15 minutes are slim, trim, and immersed in something that feels like it’s clouding your mind with imaginative impulses and warped devastation like they’re taking a trip to a new plane of existence.
“Cursed Machines of Catastrophic Failure” punches open, delivering raw fury and chaos, the guitars chugging in soot. Riffs slice as the track gets thrashier, synth clouds over everything, and the atmosphere is filled with melody and violent tendencies. The title track starts with guitars dripping in before heavy punches land, and the vocals scrape through a foggy synth haze that fills your lungs. Melodies compel as creaky vocals rumble, and then the sounds melt into serenity, giving an unexpected dose of calm. Things slowly slither back, the guitars generate scornful vibes, and everything is swallowed into the void. “Time Erosion Weapon” dawns in a sci-fi synth scape, and then vicious howls arrive and claw into muscle. Punishing riffs send cinders flying, the drums smash, and a black metal-style assault melts into sinister shrieks and a tornadic pressure. “Lost Dark Mountain” ends the EP with a sound bed created by thick keys, and the vocals twist into your psyche and leave damage. The guitars float in a spacey gasp of psychedelics, the vortex starts to swirl, and everything disappears into cosmic mystery.
“Oak” is the first new music we’ve heard from The Howling Wind since their 2019 full-length “Shadow Tentacles,” and what we find on these four immersive tracks is their continued foray into exploring more mysterious and dangerous sounds. This is a satisfying bridge to connect whatever comes next, and if this is any hint, then the next record could really be a total mindfuck. That sounds like an alluring possibility as these two keep pushing the possibilities of what it means to be heavy and sinister.
For more on the band, go here: https://thehowlingwind.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://thehowlingwind.bandcamp.com/album/oak