Oct 172013

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Tim Call and Ryan Lipynsky under their moniker The Howling Wind.)

Synaesthesia is a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. And although we may rarely think about it, it permeates the way we think, talk, and write about music.

When we use words like “heavy”, “crushing”, “dark”, etc., we’re drawing on the experience of our other senses in order to describe the musical experience. We talk about how it feels, how it tastes. We wax lyrical about colour and light and shade. We even assign emotion to the faintest of sounds. The language of music incorporates all the senses.

The duo who comprise The Howling Wind have – whether consciously or unconsciously – exploited this idea for years. Each of their albums is crowned with a distinctive colour scheme which serves both to reflect the music contained within and also to set each release apart from the others. From the rust and verdigris palette of Pestilence and Peril, through the cold, stark blues of Into The Cryosphere, up to the crimson occult shades of last year’s Of Babalon, the cover for each album has been both a promise and a warning of things to come.

So when you see the pitiless greys which grace the cover of Vortex you should prepare yourself for a truly bleak and unforgiving experience.

Aug 032012

(In this post, our UK-based writer Andy Synn reviews the new album by the bi-coastal due known as The Howling Wind.)

The Howling Wind?”, I hear you cry (somehow, from behind the dubious safety of my keyboard), “that sounds like some sort of black metal band to me!”.

Well shame on you for making an assumption based purely on the band’s name. How do you know they aren’t the latest leaders in progressive post-core, or the new face of technical instrudjental metal, hmm? For shame.

But you’re right. The Howling Wind are most definitely black metal. Of a particularly dark and forbidding kind. Of a particularly American kind, in fact.

The term “American black metal” has been thrown around a fair bit in recent years, often thoughtlessly so. Personally I think that while it is not a strict genre term (being applied rather widely as it is), there is a noticeable underlying style which links “American black metal” together – a cultural background and a certain form of approach to the style which is neurologically different from its European forebears.

Partially this is because American attempts at a pure emulation of the European style usually end up as hideous amalgams of cliché and misunderstanding (Averse Sefira and Martriden are, off the top of my head, two of the few bands whose style is particularly Trans-Atlantic), but equally black metal is often best as a representation of cultural roots. Not in a folk-style (though a good number of them utilise folk melodies and themes), but as an extrapolation of culture and its extremities. That’s why there’s a difference between the paragons of Swedish and Norwegian black metal, for example. Similar in style, vastly different in approach. And so the same holds true for American black metal, of which Of Babalon is a near perfect example.

May 252012

I went back and re-read my May 2010 review of The Howling Wind’s last album, Into the Cryosphere, and I cringed a little at how much I had loaded it up with ice metaphors: “Massive distorted riffs that alternately race like an avalanche, chug, or relentlessly trudge forward with the grinding power of a glacier in motion. Guitar leads that establish chilling melodies, as if reverberating off the walls of icy caves. Bleeding solos that howl like inversion winds across a blasted tundra. Icy vocals that hold out no hope of mercy . . . .”  And shit, there was even more . . .

Even though I’m slightly embarrassed to read what I wrote, I do remember vividly how hard that album knocked me down. The intensity of my enthusiasm simply exceeded the limits of my literary skills. When I started hearing rumblings of a new album in the works, I got excited all over again — and now we’ve finally received details about the release, plus a new song.

The Howling Wind’s next album will be titled Of Babalon, it was recorded by Colin Marston (Krallice, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts), it has a cool album cover, and it’s scheduled for release by Profound Lore on July 17. This week Profound Lore also started streaming the fifth track on the album, a song called “The Mountain View”.

May 142010

The Howling Wind are brilliant, like shards of splintered ice gleaming in the sun of a wintry sky.

If we had any sense, we’d stop the review of the band’s second album, Into the Cryosphere, right there and call it a day. But we can’t remember the last time anyone accused us of having any sense. So, onward and upward! The who, the what, the why . . .

The Who: The Howling Wind are a two-person band. One of the two is Ryan Lipynsky (formerly known as Killusion). He lives in Brooklyn and has made something of a cult name for himself in bands called Thralldom and Unearthly Trance. He plays the guitars and the bass and provides the vocals.

The other is Tim Call (a/k/a Parasitus Nex). He lives up in our neck of the woods, in Portland, Oregon. He’s involved (or has been involved) with other bands, including Aldebaran and Hail. He also runs a cool on-line music store called Parasitic Records. He plays the drums.

The What: This bi-coastal duo has melted down blocks of classic black-metal, death ‘n roll, psychedelia, doom, and sludge, mixed that slurried slush together, and then re-frozen it into a killer listening experience. (more after the jump, including a track to stream . . .)

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