UK Death Metal/Sludge titans WarCrab are back with their fourth studio release, The Howling Silence. I don’t want to say best because that feels like a disservice to the three previous equally superb offerings.
WarCrab – The Howling Silence (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Release Date: 3 November 2023
Words: Jools Green
These guys are always consistent, but The Howling Silence excels in a different manner. This time they have broadened their horizons and added a new dimension to their sound in the shape of some faster, crustier Death Metal influences and it makes for a fascinating listen.
But fans of their epic-length offerings are not left out either. There are two huge beasts on this release for you to sit back, relax and enjoy.
Up-tempo opener Orbital Graveyard immediately grabs your attention. With its pummelling drum rhythms and hypnotic fuzzy repeat riffing, you get slick direction switches. Martyn’s raw but clear vocal delivery cuts through, delivering some superb protracted roars along with a sharp burst of closing leadwork.
I absolutely love the next piece, Titan Of War. It opens as a groovy, hugely engaging, sludgy stomper that initially takes a gentle twisted journey, the vocals coursing above. Midway it takes a slower, more deliberate pace, where more open segments allow for some beautifully fluid drum patterns to shine through. Then it’s off to a faster more complex pace, punctuated with very groovy segments and a sublime soaring burst of latter part leadwork.
Black Serpent Coils opens on tantalisingly eerie bass lines, taking a dark exotic turn as the guitars and drum work kick in. The pace builds gradually and the direction shifts subtly, maintaining the flow. The second-half lead work soars out superbly, another piece that I absolutely love.
In complete contrast, Sword Of Mars packs a massive punch from the offset with pounding rhythms repeating bursts of searing lead work, each heralding a build in the pace and intensity. A superbly crushing, sensory assault of a track that also hits the spot for me.
As the title suggests, As The Mourners Turn Away has a slower more reflective mood. Very Doom-rich with superbly protracted vocals, the midpoint lead work is superbly haunting. It’s a monster at almost nine minutes duration but holds your attention throughout.
I love the opener on Sourlands Under A Rancid Sun. It’s suspensefully sultry but don’t get too lost in it because the vocals arrive with forceful intent as the pace develops a doomy crush. A track that flits between superbly dense, intense, and searingly crushing and a more reflective mood where the drums become more prominent. This is always a good thing as there is some pretty tasty drum work all the way through this album.
The final piece, Howling Silence, is the album monster at almost eleven minutes. A gradual builder, almost otherworldly as it starts, then the pummelling drum rhythms kick in, and it really begins to develop. With segments of searing riffs and passages of raw but clear vocals, it’s also one of those tracks that ebbs and builds in subtle increments. The midpoint leadwork is expansive, heralding a sharp drop in pace and change of both mood and direction building with a dark intensity. A superbly dramatic statement piece to close the album on.
Not only does this album absolutely nail it as a studio offering, but I can also attest that it also delivers live, having had the privilege of attending the album live premier recently. So it’s a win-win situation with this beast of a release.
The Howling Silence is available as a limited edition, hand-numbered and 8-panel digipak CD with full-colour printing, a metallic effect throughout, along with gloss raised UV lamination elements and comes with a download code and a transparent logo sticker.