On this, their second full-length, Rhode Island’s Howl already sound like contenders – to Mastodon! There’s a generation of bands who reared heads, tusks and antlers out of the swamp to transcends their disparate origins and can now be termed, simply, classic metal. Some, such as Opeth, Baroness and Kylesa evolved towards absolute mastery.
It took them several albums to get there, turning Howl into immediate suspects. Howl were started by Design School graduates and are named after Allen Ginsburg’s seminal beat poem, yet they dare to sound like a stampede of shiny megatheriums smashing through Spartan defence lines.
The riffs, the chops, the unignorable odour of being savvy of heavy metal’s legacy; everything is in the right place, except for the originality and character that typifies the top tier. Bloodlines is strangely anemic; designed to perfection but an album that rarely demands your full attention.