Black Howling - Return of Primordial Stillness - (8.5/10)
Published on July 1, 2018
Alongside Corpus Christii, Morte Incandescente, and Decayed, Black Howling is one of Portugal’s longest running (active) black metal bands. The duo of guitarist/bassist A. and vocalist/drummer P. have been at it for well over a decade, churning out a sizable discography since their formation. Black Howling’s music stands out among their fellow Portuguese black metal bands, opting to lean towards towards the melancholic, depressive side of things. Make no mistake, though, as Black Howling’s music is every bit as raw and, perhaps, more spellbinding than their brethren.
Return of Primordial Stillness, the band’s sixth full length album, which sees July 2018 release through Signal Rex, features forty minutes of music across four tracks of emotionally draining and anguished black metal. Of the four tracks, the opening and closing tracks are melancholic yet primordially intense intro/outro pieces which set the stage, and close the chapter, on the two main songs. “Iberia” begins things with a noisy, desiccated heaviness which eventually sweeps into somber notes and plodding percussion, backed by tormented screams, setting deep roots for what’s to come. “Celestial Syntropy (Übermensch Elevated)” fires away with raw screams and rampant blasts, yet the constantly blazing tremolo riffs are dripping with gloomy overtones, eventually falling into a slow moving dirge-like monolith of melodic, depressive movements, and ultimately back to the blistering, trem-infused approach. “Celestial Entropy (Emptiness Revelation)” delivers more of a slow burn, quietly building from melancholic musings into a triumph of old school, punchy nostalgia. Much like the opening, “Cosmic Oblivion” sees the band wandering through depressive melodies before departing to silence.
When taken separately, Return of Primordial Stillness might sound like any number of black metal bands, but Black Howling is able to weave dejection and abject misery into every note presented. Yet, despite the bleak, melancholic nature of their sound and the raw, chaotic maelstrom of the rhythm section and vocals, the guitar lines triumphantly lead the listener out of vile wretchedness and into the burning light. Black Howling’s ability to weave striking melodicism into their sound while remaining raw and ruinous overall is impressive and something they’ve come to master over the years. This is not an easy album to grasp, the band never meant for it to be easy, but after several listens there is no way someone who calls themselves a fan of black metal could dislike this album.