Integrity - Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume - (9/10)
Published on August 12, 2017
Howling Like a Nightmare
Being around since 1988, Integrity is a name that should not be unknown to many out there. With eight prior full-lengths, and countless other releases, this four-piece have unleashed their newest slab of hardcore mastery, taking elements of past and present to create one complete and full sounding album. Released by Relapse Records, Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume, shows a band just as intense as they have ever been, and sounding just as relevant.
Howling is not an album that wastes any time kicking into gear. With a sharp metallic sound, each track blends into the next seamlessly and matches ferocity with shredding leads and solos, and a vocal performance that leaves little to be desired. The shorter songs are at their simplest a major kick in the teeth, with riff after riff hitting you hard, and the lead guitar work piercing your ears in the best way possible. Each track manages to pack in a ton of guitar pyrotechnics, but nothing that ever takes away from the performances of the other members. The longer tracks offer bit more, as it allows the band to showcase their ability to craft a longer form song, while still being able to pound the listener into submission, but even feel a bit more cathartic. The center-piece of the album, “Serpent Of The Crossroads” especially offers a great ability at building up the song, and reaching a powerful climax that leaves you feeling relieved even while the band is still creating some dark tones.
Not to come across too one note by any means, the variety in the song writing is not the only thing the band works with. The penultimate track, “String Up My Teeth”, offers some female vocals mixed in with the barking to create a nice, almost pop like chorus in an already great track. It further cements the fact that Integrity are capable of pummeling you, lifting you up, and even surprising you if you don’t know what to expect. Further than that, the production and mixing on the album is phenomenal, capturing each element and instrument perfectly, and never letting anything be drowned out or sound sloppy. Obviously, the tightness of the playing and writing comes easily with players of this caliber, but these 47 minutes never seem to impress and build the adrenaline.
With various line-up changes over the years, it would be understandable for a band to possibly show signs of slowing down, or lacking a certain piece of their sound they had before. However, there are cases such as this where the line-ups never take away from the band, and each new release seems to just improve upon the prior. Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume is a damn great album from an important act, and continues the long line of solid to great releases. Main man Dwid Hellion has an incredible group of musicians behind him, and nearly 30 years into their storied career, Integrity show no signs of losing any ability to create excellent music. Expectations were high for this new release, and those expectations were met handily and one could say easily surpassed, as this ranks as one of the best of the year without question.