Generation Of Vipers

Howl And Filth

Written by: AP on 29/09/2013 14:14:04

In conjunction with the vinyl re-issue of their 2011 album "Howl and Filth"; Knoxville, TN based Generation of Vipers also decided to re-release it digitally through Translation Loss - in case some readers are wondering what relevance a two-year old record could possibly have in our review selection for this year. The group's fell, sludgy take on post-metal is very much in keeping with current fads, with nods toward both the post-hardcore/black metal movement that's been picking up momentum of late, and the reverberating, mournful grandeur of doom audible in their sound. Think of it as a balanced mix of Black Cobra, Downfall of Gaia and This Gift is a Curse.

The proceedings begin with arguably the best track on the album, "Ritual", which treads in with a kind of slow gallop, with buoyant drumming that at times sounds almost tribal; and surges of guitar and bass penetrating through a suspiciously ethereal backdrop of ambient melody, like tiny teasers of the escalation that will follow. Its arrangement is such that one remains on one's toes, waiting for an abrupt crash into madness or ascent toward grandeur that could occur at any moment - not only making it a tense introduction, but also giving the song a welcome character of unpredictability. The contrast could hardly be more striking than when guitarist/pianist Josh 'Asa' Holt's savage vocals tune in, a mixture of TGIAC's Jonas A. Holmberg, The Psyke Project's Martin Nielskov and Converge's Jacob Bannon delivered through a pint of swamp water. Really, the transition has all the feel of Cult of Luna strolling through a misty wood, lost in thought; suddenly assaulted and mangled by some snarling monstrosity.

Though the pace is considerably less frenetic than is the case with much of TGIAC's output, there are overt, and at times striking similarities between the material on "Howl and Filth" and the pure, suffocating evil that the Swedish outfit have made their trademark (see, for instance, the remarkably similar "Misery Coil" at the end). The album is splattered with reminders that Generation of Vipers have no desire to join the ranks of beautiful and cinematic post-metal bands; the soundscape does, on occasion, grow to enormous proportions, but as the trudging "Silent Shroud" shows, the atmosphere remains coal coloured even then, and whatever rays of light are able to penetrate the abrasive mix in the form of clean notes and ambiance are swiftly, and without hesitation, deconstructed and replaced with sections that wouldn't sound out of place on a Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge record, provided those bands slowed their mayhem down to a doomier pace. The sense of threat that lingers over "Howl and Filth" is aptly condensed into the the eerie, ritualistic mixture of piano, violin and chanting in "All of This is Mine" - which offers some foul respite from the thick wall of darkness the first two songs raise.

Sadly, despite its multiple merits, "Howl and Filth" has no claim to consistency. "Eternal", for instance, which justifies the mention of Converge (think the dirty, downtrodden stuff off "Axe to Fall"), seems stuck in a loop of dirge and dissonant chords that never go anywhere, and "Slow Burn", as its title suggests, fails to produce sufficient revelations throughout its 8-minute running length (though the tribal feel to the drums around the halfway quietus is rather endearing). The primary issue here is that Generation of Vipers are far too keen to enter into a drone with riffs that do not provide enough reasons to justify lingering for several minutes at a time; they are, more often than not, little else than loops of simple sludgy chords. Fortunately, with "The Misery Coil" the band round "Howl and Filth" off in style; with a song that crawls in over 2 minutes of troubling, indigenous string instruments before exploding into a hair raising blackened doom metal piece. Indeed, "Howl and Filth" is impressive in periods, but riddled with too much unnecessary filler to mark it as a particularly breathtaking effort.


Download: Ritual, Silent Shroud, The Misery Coil
For the fans of: Downfall of Gaia, The Psyke Project, Severe, This Gift is a Curse
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.09.2013 (originally 19.07.2011)
Golden Antenna Records

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