ALBUM REVIEW: THE HOWLING VOID - INTO A DARKNESS EVER MORE PROFOUND
FUNERALLY. DOOMY. SYNTHY.
There is a good chance you have not yet heard of The Howling Void despite this being the band's eighth album. The Howling Void is a one-person underground project from Ryan Wilson whose name is also associated with underground acts Intestinal Disgorge, Hordes of the Morning Star, and Pneuma Hagion. The dusty heat haze of San Antonio, where Wilson is based, might not be an obvious habitat for chilly windswept funeral doom, but The Howling Void produce doom-inflected drawn-out meandering vistas of solitude and grief-stricken enormity.
But let’s get the usual caveats about doom out of the way. The pace of Into Darkness Ever More Profound is overwhelmingly ponderous across the whole record. The slow metabolic rate and aching cyclical patterns are inherent in this form of music which is often about state of mind and sensory impact rather than immediacy. Essentially, not everyone gets it. The imagery and song titles scream of unalloyed anguish while The Howling Void’s bandcamp intimates this is (another) treatise exploring the mysteries of death. Funeral Doom – the hint is in the name after all.
Yet for all the emotional grandiosity, this is not the heavy and oppressive doom record you might be expecting. While there are certainly doom sensibilities implicit in the spirit and slow-burning feel of the album, the overt ‘metalisms’ are only periodic. The heaviest track is perhaps Impenetrable Gloom but even this, despite the dreary title, is filled with unhurried hushed lull and lingering introspective keyboards. There are deep harsh vocals but these are used sparsely and sit so low in the mix as to perform an oblique instrumental role.
Instead, Into Darkness Ever More Profound is more in the territory of dark ambient mood music. Somnambulant tracks photosynthesize slowly with vaporous dreamy synths taking a lead position. Aside from weeping, anguished clean hook lines, the guitars have a more understated role in the production. The additional accoutrement of occasional spectral tinkling of keys (also Wilson seems keen on sporadic forlorn clanging of bells) give this a spacious, airy sound where the focus is very much on hue and funereal atmosphere.
With only four songs covering around 40 minutes and each of them set an unrelentingly slow and tortuous crawl, this is loss, grief and sorrow magnified in slo-mo to examine and re-examine them in every weary aspect. This demands a particular type of listener buy-in to have a hope of connecting as the songs amalgamate in bowed, cureless heartbreak. If the songs do actually develop, then it is easy to miss. The intention instead is for this to be a meditative experience. And yet, despite each track being basted in despair the shimmering synths ensure this is more reflective than extreme, melancholic instead of brutal, poignant not just smothering bleakness. Long passages of soothing hush give this a contemplative moodiness while some of the guitar melodies are even close to being uplifting, where there are hints towards emotional thawing or resolution - but in a doomy and funereal kind of way, of course.
The Howling Void are on bandcamp and here is the link: https://thehowlingvoid.bandcamp.com/