I, Voidhanger records have long stood out as one of my favorite underground labels and have never failed to impress, putting out top notch black metal record after top notch black metal record. The latest in this proud tradition is Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows the third release from the gloriously evil Howls Of Ebb. This is a band who have managed to conjure up a sound that is truly unique in black metal. In fact, the bands approach to the genre is so comprehensive, and their understanding of metal so holistic that I would almost hesitate to call this proper black metal. Howls Of Ebb go a step beyond, infusing their sound with touches of thrash and death metal, and even a lick or two of hardcore and refining the entire thing under a grandiose and potent sonic presence.
I think what gets me about Howls Of Ebb is how friggin' immense they sound. There is something overwhelming and authoritative about the Lovecraftian odes that the band conjures up with this album. They have tapped into an almost antediluvian pool of otherworldly magic and it leads to heavy metal of a sort unlike any you have ever heard before. You see, Howls Of Ebb's sound is based on contrasts, and the gentle acoustic moments are directly opposed by moments of pure black metal fury, and yet all of it somehow fits into a larger cohesive whole, showing you a strange path forward and enlightening the listener as they navigate sonic highways of a sort that have never been seen before and may very well never be seen again. Howls Of Ebb are simply that good.
One of the things that I find intriguing about this record is the bands ability, and willingness to mix in things from traditionally unaffiliated genres. That being said – things don't always work out perfectly. For example, on 'Cabals Of Molder' when Howls Of Ebb get really caught up in a sort of thrash metal trip, but you can't help but feel that the sound has gotten a little bit out of hand. It thins out the sound and takes away from how sublime the music can be. Of course, this might just be part of that game of contrasts, yet for me, Howls Of Ebb are at their greatest when they are heaviest and most expansive, and I would be very curious to see them take these already impressive ideas and manipulate them further so that they play more to their strengths.
Thing is, I fucking love this record. Howls Of Ebb have really started to come of age with Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows. While on previous releases they suggested a lot of potential, this is perhaps the first record where they really start to realize it, and as you properly digest the music you realize how incredibly good this band is. Howls Of Ebb is an obscenely talented band, and listening to them tear your world apart in an enlightening and transcendent experience. Few bands have the sheer verve and audacity of Howls Of Ebb do andany fan of black metal is going to have a very hard time turning this off.