Label: I, Voidhanger Records / Caligari Records
Review by Prateek Vamachara
Howls of Ebb is one of the most unique extreme metal bands of recent times. ‘Vigils of the 3rd Eye’ was breathtaking, as the obtuse structures left no room for comfort among the insane blackened atmosphere throughout the album. As unconventional as it was, there were quite a few catchy parts in the second half of the record that strainfully held on to familiar tropes. What it did was give hints as to what the band can do if they chose either paths of insanity. With ‘The Marrow Veil’ EP, some of the rawness was polished off, a lot more dark ambient sections were featured and not a lot of ideas were tailored in, as was the case of the debut album, albeit being another solid release. ‘Cursus Impasse’ though brings back the chaos of Vigils to create a convoluted behemoth.
Riffs like jagged edges twisting and churning your brain’s grey matter is something I got used to while listening to Cursus Impasse. The aggression has been stepped up a notch, and the oppressive atmosphere still holds its ground. When bands attempt to take an experimental or avant-garde route, they would usually prefer forms of music that brings the nuances in the forefront, which would unfortunately mean that the murky sound has to be dropped for a cleaner production. Howls of Ebb successfully incorporates both into their music exceptionally well. The psychedelic aspects has a playful sensibility that one wouldn’t expect out of black/death metal album, but here it is and it only strengthens the overall demented effect the album has on the listener. Agostino Arrivabene’s abstract artwork symbolizes the perplexing music of Howls of Ebb quite well.
The intention is clear from get go, as ‘The 6th Octopul’th Grin’ rushes onto you like a rabid dog going for your neck, and this energy continues on to ‘Cabals of Molder’. Atonal riffs pounce on unconventional drum patterns while zELeVthaND’s growls fills the psychedelic aura. The next couple of tracks follow a trajectory of patient build up decorated by unnerving dark ambience and ritualistic fervour steadily moving into tumultuous and seemingly disordered bludgeoning. After a minute or so of an eerie strumming interlude, the album pulls out the angular guitar work again. ‘The Subliminal Lock’ is another track that proves the band’s virtuoso when it comes to irregular and trippy writing. The haphazard lead guitars accentuates the cumulating frenziness as the track picks up pace and ferocity. The ending note is a grim and angry tale as the final track ‘The Apocryphalic Wick’ creates spacious and vile atmosphere on the first half, and then going ape-shit crazy in the final few minutes like there is no tomorrow. The climactic guitar solo and vicious vocals almost filled with maddening hysteria joins along the already rapid riffing and drums to end the album in lunatic exuberance.
Cursus Impasse is a genre-bending monolith. Sporadic and complex, the band’s technical capabilities remain undoubted, while the genius of their writing capabilities has been reconfirmed. Maniacal drum patterns continue to trouble your psyche. Crude riffs continue to make you uncomfortable. Themes that could fit easily into Lovecraftian mythos amplify the horror the album creates sonically. It is clear what path Howls of Ebb has chosen for their future musical endeavors and exciting times await us. Follow this band carefully.