Album Review: Warcrab – The Howling Silence

Album Review: Warcrab - The Howling Silence
Reviewed by Sam Jones

From the far south of England comes Warcrab, a death/sludge metal band that has only continued to release material the last few years and broaden their fanbase each time over. Formed in 2009, from Plymouth, England, Warcrab burst onto the scene with their self-titled record in 2012, and their first and only EP, Ashes Of Carnage, in 2014. However, come 2016, and following the band’s second full length record, Scars Of Aeons, much attention, including my own, were suddenly thrust upon this band. Their first record now in four years since 2019’s Damned In Endless Night, The Howling Silence is a much awaited follow up. I have really quite enjoyed this band as of late and therefore this was a record I was looking forward to with great excitement. Continuing their contract with Transcending Obscurity Records and penned down for a November 3rd release date, The Howling Silence is sure to be a record on many minds when the day dawns.

I like how the band can play effectively at totally opposite tempos and still entertain us thoroughly. The band’s sludgier approach to metal has always had this emphasis on speed entwined within their performance but it’s the impact that speed has upon us that gives Warcrab a particularly murky and vicious aesthetic. The opening track for instance, “The Orbital Graveyard”, is this punching track that while is not the fastest track in the world still possesses a great deal of power due to how the guitar tone has rendered the riffs. When things speed up here, the strength Warcrab are capable at imparting is astounding as that grittier guitar tone only continues to build and gather momentum before the rest of the band’s might is also included in the moment. There are times throughout this record where the excessive force this album is able to bring down upon us is eye-opening as they’ve evidently seen to it their instrumentation does not fit together seamlessly. As a result, the power of their soundscape is deafening and continues to pump adrenaline through our bodies to an ultimate blood-crazed crescendo.

However, as mentioned prior, the band know how to play along steadier pacings too. Owing to the guitar tone they’ve implemented herein, when things are slowed down a touch, you seriously feel the might and impact these dropping chords bring down. Warcrab have become rather adept at writing music that’s brimming with malice yet still feels like we aren’t ever going to struggle to keep up with their songwriting, nor is that slow that we’re having to bare our breath for it to catch up. With songwriting that’s naturally geared towards this encroaching, malevolent style of sludge metal, the band are able to really infuse their atmosphere with an immersion that others of their kin may not be able to match. Yet, there are no superficial atmospheric elements being incorporated here; there are no ambient samples, no audio files, none of the sort, the band’s immersive element is achieved via a crushing yet emboldened guitar sound, harrowing vocals and a drumming presence that uses every strike and crash and kick to encase the audience in concrete.

Album Review: Warcrab - The Howling Silence

This sense of crushing foreboding is no doubt amplified by the band’s bass that flows through the record without difficulty. We’ve touched upon how the band’s performance entices us further and then locks us in, but it’s only when you hear the bass guitar perform on its own that you understand just how strong of a foundation The Howling Silence actually possesses. This isn’t some paper-thin element either; the bass the band utilise here is massive and thick and yet, it still harnesses a groove and life to it that likely enables the riffs to feel as fluidic and full of motion as they do when the songwriting picks up a notch, and the band undergo the faster and more ruthless periods of their songwriting. It’s ultimately why the band’s aggressive aspects don’t merely fall upon some flat surface because the under layer of this record seemingly has this spring to it that allows the songwriting to bounce off, then back on and off again. In essence, Warcrab have effectively crafted a yo-yo style of timbre whereby the audience can be completely at ease knowing the music is bouncing back and forth without creating any unnecessary auditory discomfort, regardless what tempo they’re listening to in the moment.

Considering the band’s proclivity towards longer tracks, it’s curious that Warcrab don’t include too many herein of a longer duration. Yet, that may be for the better, as The Howling Silence shapes up to be the band’s most ferocious and uncompromising album so far. Many of their earlier doom elements have been stripped back to make way for more crushing death metal intonations that allow for that bouncing riff style, but that hasn’t stopped them from writing material that’s noticeably faster and within the odd song that does reach for the nine, ten minute mark. Usually, when this is the case, the band in question will obviously showcase a longer track to include slower, more numerous doom elements yet, Warcrab forgo this approach for the most part with songwriting that continuously tweaks its force and tempo to create music that’s equally quick, but drags its weight throughout song durations so you feel the strength that’s being put into each sequence of riff and vocal delivery. With that said, many of these songs reach upwards of six minutes and their ferocity hardly abates for a moment, and the weight of these riffs refuses to subside even as the concluding sequences are beginning. It’s easily their heaviest album yet.

In conclusion, I do believe The Howling Silence is going to be a great success for Warcrab, since they appear to have moved on somewhat from their earliest doom-influenced origins. The trudging, doom vibe is still here in essence but practically speaking it’s been overtaken by a much more driven, virulent death metal approach that definitely works in the band’s aggressive, brazen favour. While they certainly have a grasp of controlling pacing throughout their longer tracks, it’s good to see even they recognise the limits of what this approach may have when their concluding, title piece exceeds ten minutes long and they’re implementing techniques seasoned fans will recognise from records like Scars Of Aeons. This new found power is going to give Warcrab a fresh advantage, for the crushing, enveloping soundscape is one that easily holds you in place for the full duration of this album. I think good things are coming this way for Warcrab and The Howling Silence is evidence enough as per why that is. A quality sludge record through and through.

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.