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The Howling Void - The Darkness At The Edge of Dawn Award winner

The Howling Void
The Darkness At The Edge of Dawn
by Jon Conant at 27 January 2018, 10:30 PM

Symphonic funeral doom metal isn’t usually my go-to genre of choice, but in the case of THE HOWLING VOID, it’s pretty fucking fantastic. As a true lover of both art and metal, I can’t help but admire the dedication of sole member Ryan Wilson to his craft. He takes a genre that is disregarded by the masses and elevates it to a place of pure artistic beauty. It is emotional, thoughtful, sophisticated, well written and well performed. It is truly art, coming from a place of passion and inspiration that can’t be matched by so many bands. So if you’re willing to buy into the long and droning ambiance that defines it (which if you love metal, you should), it is quite an experience to listen to.

But that is the thing about music of this nature, you have to actually listen to it. It is not a 3-minute pop song with a hook that gets stuck in your head after a listen. “The Darkness at the Edge of Dawn”, 6th full length release by THE HOWLING VOID since forming in 2007, will require a sit down listen with full attention given. And when you do, you start to hear the intricate beauty. It’s only 5 songs, but it is 39 minutes giving it a decided full-length feel.

First and foremost, this is ambient metal. It is soft, and it is defined by the clean-only vocals, that are gently interspersed throughout the music. I love what Wilson is doing with his voice, it is emotional and raw. Since the vocals are only backing the instrumental music and melodic guitar focus, this is perfect and only lends to the melancholic feel of the album. Opener “Distant Shores” immediately establishes the cold and relatable nature of the music. It is an expression of sorrow in the heart, and the guitar melodies that Wilson creates are beautiful.

Track 2 A Seed To Stone immediately takes a darker, quicker, and slightly more metal sound. It it accompanied by fittingly crashing and pulsating drums, and the backing synth is absolutely gorgeous. It almost reminds me of trailer music (TWO STEPS FROM HELL) but the ambient metal version, in terms of the epic showcasing of emotion and the way it crescendos and comes down again. The second half of the song then switches into a much softer pulsating melody driven by thumping drums and a soft electric guitar melody. The atmosphere this part of the song creates is hard to describe, but it is dark and malicious and sounds like it belongs in a movie during a scene where some seriously sad shit is going down. I love it, I think it is art in its purest form.

Title track “The Darkness at the Edge of Darn” starts to see Wilson experiment with his sound more, as well as showing of some of his artistic flair. The bluesy guitar solo was unexpected, perfectly placed and added to the album in the best possible way.

Track 4 “Silence and the Setting Sun” continues the soft experimentation. We get a lot more guitar work that feels like its influenced from various parts of the world. The melodies are unique, different, and they blend in with the foreign nature he gives his vocals on this song. The layering of vocal parts together reminds me of monks chanting with the growling echo it creates.

Album closer “When I Am Forgotten” is an expression of sorrow in the heart, and the guitar melodies that Wilson creates are beautiful. It is the perfect way to finish the album. I would describe the beautiful and melodic nature of the music as transcendent on this track. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard in metal. INSOMNIUM would be proud of the pure sorrow it will place in your heart. It is one of the most musically relatable things I have ever heard in terms of the sheer emotion it creates, and it is everything right with metal. It is variety at it’s finest. We even get a bit more bluesy guitar, which fits in seamlessly. The melodies expand and grow over the course of the track, and the interspersed display of soft solo guitar work by Wilson throughout the track is never lacking in flavor or variety.

Now, will you like it, being an average music fan? I don’t know, probably not. It is very specific, and will certainly be under appreciated by most. But, if you are a lover of metal, you are not already familiar with THE HOWLING VOID, and what I’ve described sounds like something you can get into: you have some listening to do.



Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Distant Shores
2. A Seed on Stone
3. The Darkness at the Edge of Dawn
4. Silence and the Setting Sun
5. When I Am Forgotten
Lineup:
Ryan Wilson – All Parts
Record Label: Avantgarde
     


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Edited 19 September 2018
 

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