The Howling Wind - Of Babalon
Profound Lore Records
Black Metal
9 songs (48:30)
Release year: 2012
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat

I missed The Howling Wind's previous album, 2010's Into The Cryosphere, by over a year, so I suppose it's progress that I'm only a few months behind when it comes to the follow-up! Once again Unearthly Trance's Ryan Lipynsky has joined forces with sticksman Tim Call to produce a gnarly blast of black metal, although there's a significant lessening of the icy sludginess of Into The Cryosphere in favour of good old heavy black metal, gleefully riff-driven and far easier to pick up and enjoy than previous inhuman efforts. Although the formula of Hellhammer plus Darkthrone plus crust is still very much present and correct, this has been smoothed over and rolled out to create a set of songs that will have you banging your head as much as gripping you with pure atmosphere. The band are skilled at combining the two, the cobweb-strewn production helping raise the hairs on the back of your neck whilst you're exercising it.

From the moment opening track The Seal Upon The Tomb launches into blastbeat-stewn riff-worship, dark and forboding as well as enjoyable, shifting twice into high speed with squealling soloing that takes the lead for lengthy moments, before falling back to the rhythmic pounding of before. Graal's higher-pitched, more melodic riffs add a sense of frantic urgency, intersposed with warlike crashing. Scaling The Walls has a Nachtmystium-like almost groovy vibe, rhythmic and catchy without losing the grimy atmosphere, and The Mountain View begins with glorious slow, crushing doom before upping the tempo. Make no mistake, however, this is primarily about banging your head, and monolithic riffbeasts like Choronzon succeed fantastically at that, slamming with guitarwork almost like a black metal High On Fire, complete with widdly soloing. The album ends with a double Hellhammer cover, and it's a fitting closing, a tribute to the originators and spiritual forefathers of this strand of metal. Listen too closely to the album overall, and there are complaints - some of the riffs are repeated just a little too much, for example, having a hypnotic effect but pushing it too much. In some ways I prefer their older, colder sound, but ultimately there's no denying that Of Babalon is an arsekicker of an album, and that the duo are comfortable enough to rock out a bit is a good sign - I look forward to much good USBM from this duo.

Killing Songs :
The Seal Upon The Tomb, Graal, Choronzon
Goat quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by The Howling Wind that we have reviewed:
The Howling Wind - Into The Cryosphere reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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