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Beg, borrow or steal…. the album money cannot buy. The Howling – The Big Smoke and Mirrors

Article and review: Adrian Hextall

Every now and again a band comes along with the attitude, swagger and songs to make an impact, to make it big. Back in 2014, everyone in the UK thought so. Rave live reviews including 2 from yours truly (see links below) caught the attention of William Luff at http://wilfulpublicity.co.uk/ and thanks to a great deal for his services, his guiding hand suddenly saw The Howling making waves in Kerrang!, on YouTube with their debut video and before long an album, The Big Smoke and Mirrors, is in the bag and ready for release.

And then… it all went south. The band had issues, lead singer Blacky faced health problems, a hiatus was needed from which, sadly, the band never recovered and the album has never “officially” seen light of day. Numerous attempts by lead guitarist The Rev were made to get the album out but, to date, it’s still not happened.

Why should you care? Lots of albums never make the cut, what’s so special about this one? Read on:

Genre: electronic rock / alternative electronic modern rock / punk

Release date: One day we hope

The Howling are:

Blacky – lead vocals

The Rev – lead guitar / rhythm guitar / vocals

Chappell – bass guitar/ vocals / synth programming

Jackyboy – drums

Grimes – rhythm guitar

Track list:

Outsiders / Pitbull, / Dance of the Skeletons / Beat the Panic / Hole in my Head / Cut the Rope / Lose Control / Possessed / Lunatic / Skull and Bones / Champion / Rock n Rolla

Opening with a brace of tracks that epitomise the snarl and swagger of a down and dirty rock and roll band, there’s no doubting the intent of the hungry, energised collective that is The Howling. Less than 2 minutes in and The Rev is already pulling off red hot solos whilst Blacky makes no secret that this is a band that will be considered “Outsiders”. The subtle synth work that underpins the song offers something new to the scene and immediately makes the band stand out as unique. Clever use of the opening riffs from Outsiders for a second time in Pitbull allows a perfect segue into the next track on the album. Again the riffs, synth and snarl from Black as he howls “you’ve got to put me in a cage” reverberate around the room. This is an album that needs to be played loud.

The Howling_4

Dance of the Skeletons opening with a great line “I’m back, hooked on the Prozac, turning into a maniac, chasing the feeling from the first time,” feels like an open statement of admission from the band about problems they’ve faced at some point and may, who knows, have contributed to their dissolution. It’s hard hitting, looking at how addicts are looking to recreate the effect of that first euphoric high but never managing to get there, chasing the rabbit further and further down the hole without realising the effect it’s having on them.

Again the subtle synth work adds depth to a hard hitting Beat The Panic, another song that focuses on chemical use and the fact that ‘if you come off it’ it can be as bad as staying on it. Paranoia and panic attacks can be avoided if you simply keep going. These are songs that reflect a tough time in life, where issues and excess have to be dealt with but naturally like many rock bands, provide a wealth of material for song content. Whether this was one of the main reasons that the album was never released (put the past behind us), who knows but when it’s material of this calibre, it’s a travesty.The Howling_2

Hole in My Head brings the entire band into a swirling magical mix of what The Howling has to offer. It brings out the best of The Right Thing era Faith No More, capturing both the unique “no one is doing this” approach that they had plus the energy and complex arrangements that made them stand head and shoulders above their peers at the time. That vibe continues with Cut The Rope, again a track that dance synth components and lays them down behind the main rock track. Once more it works, it feels fresh, the sound and production is second to none and its a song that fills the room. It needs to be played to a cast of thousands, IT NEEDS TO GET THE BAND BACK TOGETHER.

Lose Control shows a softer more considered side to the band although there is no less energy on show. The chorus hangs around like a close friend that just wants to hug everyone in the room and remember them.

Possessed warrants a mention as this appeared as a video and shows a band on the brink of something big. A great track when performed live, check out the song below:

It would be almost too easy to disseminate all 12 tracks one at a time but it also feels right to leave you, the reader and potential listener a reason to check this band out. Lunatic, Skull and Bones, the fantastic Champion and closer Rock n Rolla are as good as anything on this album and will make you go onto YouTube in search of snippets and more. A sampler from the album can be found HERE: but the complete package remains an elusive mystery that will simply gain cult status at record fairs as bootleg copies trade hands for serious money.

Find it; become the voice that wants this album released; Let’s make this happen!

SCORE 10/10

LIVE REVIEWS:

The Treatment, Cage the Gods and The Howling live at O2 Academy Islington, London on February 7th, 2014

Camden Rocks Festival, live in Camden Town, London UK, 31 May 2014

 

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