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Howling Giant – Alteration Award winner

Howling Giant
Alteration
by Alex Barnard at 20 July 2021, 1:47 PM

HOWLING GIANT is a Stoner/Doom Metal band from Nashville, TN. “Alteration” is the band’s fourth solo EP (fifth overall), released independently on April 20, 2021.

Up until this point in the band’s career, HOWLING GIANT has been a fairly run-of-the-mill Stoner Metal band, replete with fuzzed-out guitar riffs, drone-like textures and esoteric lyrics delivered in a beautiful, melodic fashion. However, this EP shows the group sounding less like THE SWORD and more like BONGRIPPER.

Yes, you read that right; this is HOWLING GIANT’s first venture into the world of Instrumental Drone/Doom Metal, and what a damn fine maiden voyage it is! Most Instrumental Doom Metal feels slightly dull to me, as the style is often too long-winded in my opinion. Of course, any particularly slow song will tend to sound like it’s longer than it actually is, but do BONGRIPPER and EARTH really need to make 17-minute long instrumental drones without much musical change throughout the piece?

Well, HOWLING GIANT certainly doesn’t think Instrumental Doom Metal needs to be 20 minutes of meandering nonsense. It doesn’t feel like the group just came up with these songs in the cloudy haze of a weed-induced jam session. The tracks on this EP are compact, concise and carefully crafted for a truly epic listening experience.

“Understudy” starts off with an incredibly heavy yet beautiful riff that is complimented nicely by the swirling sounds of a Hammond B3 Organ and a hefty heap of thunderous drums. “Luring Alluring Rings” follows, teeming with melodies that ooze influences from Indian Classical music. Additionally, the layers that Tom Polzine creates with his guitar are truly inspired, at times sounding reminiscent of the pioneering work of TOOL’s Adam Jones.

The guitar melodies on “Enemy of my Anemone” are perhaps my favorite on the whole EP – at times sounding bluesy, at others sounding Middle Eastern, but always sounding heavy. Finally, “Farmer Maggot’s Crop (feat. Mike T. Kerr)” rounds out the EP perfectly with multiple layers of clean guitar melodies and stunning keyboard sounds.

Overall, this EP is amazing. The production is solid, the playing is fantastic and there isn’t an ounce of filler. Hearing this EP makes me want to give Instrumental Doom Metal another shot. I hope HOWLING GIANT continues to explore this style, as what they’ve created here is unequivocally a masterpiece.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Production: 10
Memorability: 8

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Understudy
2. Luring Alluring Rings
3. Enemy of my Anemone
4. Farmer Maggot’s Crop (feat. Mike T. Kerr)
Lineup:
Sebastian Baites – Bass
Zach Wheeler – Drums
Tom Polzine – Guitars
Marshall Bolton – Keyboards
Record Label: Independent
     


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