Album: The Howling Silence
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Genre: Sludge Metal
Release Date: November 3rd, 2023
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Serpent Of Old
Warcrab are a UK-based sludge metal band signed to Transcending Obscurity records. Their last full-length release, 2019’s Damned In Endless Night, was precisely fine. While I enjoy the record when I remember to throw it on, Damned In Endless Night was ultimately a forgettable record that went on too long and that I had no nostalgia for when starting this review. 2016’s Scars Of Aeons suffered a similar fate. So my expectations were not high for The Howling Silence, Warcrab’s fourth release. Thankfully everything fell into place and The Howling Silence has been enjoyable and fun.
Warcrab’s style of sludge sounds immense. They do not play concise music. instead they take a riff or musical concept and really let it play out. The riffs aren’t AC/DC level dumb, but Warcrab is a band more than willing to let a single note repeat or to let instruments drop out if they think that this will help the music expand. The Howling Silence is a slow-rolling beast that maintains as direct a connection to the listener as possible.
The production has improved from Damned In Endless Night. While the previous record didn’t sound bad, a direct comparison between the two shows much more life throughout Warcrab’s sound on The Howling Silence, and the band maintains the clarity that is necessary for making such a low-to-the-ground sound. The drums sound deep and tom-focused, which combined with the heavy bass and vocals that are seated in the back of the mix, creates a very low, murky sound without losing any of the instruments.
The Howling Silence has also picked up the pace a bit in comparison from Damned In Endless Night. While no one will mistake this for speed metal, there does seem to be a shift in songwriting approach. The most obvious spot is in the guitar riffs, where repeated notes no longer echo throughout time and space for quite as long. Instruments still drop out of tracks as needed, but for less time. The result is a more dynamic sound. The end of “Orbital Graveyard” showcases what this approach can do. The slow riffs over faster drum patterns creates a sense of heightening tension while maintaining a massive, lumbering feel. In other words, the band successfully found a way to have their crab-cakes and eat them too.
Sometimes Warcrab’s attempts at variety falls flat. “As The Mourners Turn Away” is a slower track that leans more into the doom side of the band’s sound. While a change of pace is very welcome, this song ends up sounding lost in itself and lasts forever. As a result the second half of this record starts to drag a bit. The Howling Silence never gets boring, but between “As The Mourners Tun Away” and the final, title track, it definitely pushes up against the precipice. It’s a shame that this longer, more doom-focused approach didn’t work, because more variety was desperately needed. I enjoy Warcrab’s approach. It just turns all of their tracks up to the tempo change into a bisque, and so “As The Mourners Turn Away” could have been the rocket fuel that this release needed.
The Howling Silence clicked better than any of Warcrab’s previous releases. The use of effective songwriting to combine slow, dirgy, stuck-in-the-mud haymakers with fire and aggression showcases everything that sludge should aspire to. While I have some issues with the second half of the release, they are nothing that should push away any sludge fanatics. The Howling Silence is a massive, fast experience, and one worth checking out for those who aren’t repelled by doom or by ten minute long songs.
- Orbital Graveyard
- Titan Of War
- Black Serpent Coils
- Sword Of Mars
- As The Mourners Turn Away
- Sourlands Under A Rancid Sun
- Howling Silence
Total Playing Time: 45:29