The Howling Wind are as eerie and terrifying as their name suggests. Pushing for the truest and most desperately raw sound they can whilst holding on to tight melodies and deliciously sinister beats, The Howling Wind revel in menacing tones and ominous atmosphere. This third offering from Ryan Lipynsky (ex-Unearthly Trance and Thralldom) and Tim Call (Aldebaran) is a work of intensity and celebrates a pure black metal aesthetic within the incantations and swirling vortexes of doom.
Cries and screams of horror spill forth from Lipynsky (also guitar and bass) as this duo dig for the essence of what makes black metal so primitively obscene. Ritualistic and black magic themes electrify Of Babalon and a deep sense of knowledge and power courses through the unholy veins of the record. The guitar sound is inherently evil, the riffs writhing with a dastardly and malevolent control. Basing their concept on the writings of Aleister Crowley and the mystical system of Thelema, The Howling Wind create an ode to Babalon, or The Scarlet Woman, and speak of her sexuality and desire as well as her consort – Chaos. As an aside, there is much to be learnt from Crowley’s teachings of Thelema and the mystery surrounding this Mother of Abominations is entirely too detailed to truly go into within this text, and as such, a starting point can be found here.
Full review after the jump!
Beginning with the visceral “The Seal Upon The Tomb,” Of Babalon begins with a forceful essence, Call’s drums binding the track with furious blasts and kicks of terror. Edged with a commanding presence, the record rolls in waves of dread and mysticism as Lipynsky’s words of devastation pummel with a venomous strength. “Graal” is adapted from Crowley’s “The Vision and the Voice,” specifically “The Cry of the 12th Aethyr” and the book itself speaks of Crowley’s journey into more mystical realms. The track is suitably demonic in texture and the pace is as relentless as a march to hell, capturing the vision The Howling Wind have for truly black metal. The ideas and rites put forth are as pure as the coldest snow-laden landscape and adhere to the genres original and blasphemous intent.
“Scaling the Walls” torments with a vicious bombast and a sly catchiness creeps into the melody and gives the track a dangerous dimension that feeds into the lyrics and aura of the album. “The Mountain View” threatens with rumbling drum lines and off-kilter rhythms, the dissonant aspect giving a majestic and rich other-worldliness to the words found pouring from Lipynsky’s ravaged throat.
Closing on “Gateways”, The Howling Wind’s love letter to the master of the occult ends on a suitably shadowy note. A constant barrage of unrelenting noise fills the air with a sensual arrogance and Of Babalon’s final moments roil in heat and aggression. That’s not really the end though, and there’s a little surprise in the way of a tight cover of Hellhammer’s “Horus/Aggressor” that bursts with a demanding and punky energy that suits The Howling Wind’s sensibilities right down to the boiling hot ground.