Howling Sycamore ‘Seven Pathways To Annihilation’
Album Review By Adam McCann
Prosthetic Records/Progressive Metal
Describing themselves as ‘progressive extreme metal’, Howling Sycamore landed on the metal scene last year with an excellent self-titled debut. Featuring ex-members of Hate Eternal, Triptykon, Ignitor and Watchtower, Howling Sycamore wasted no time, choosing to strike whilst the iron is hot to deliver their sophomore album, ‘Seven Pathways to Annihilation’.
Taking in these influences from their former bands, ‘Seven Pathways…’ has all the raw, titanic brutality of Triptykon coupled with the interesting, underrated progressive pathways lain down by Watchtower; this makes this album an extremely interesting listen with vocalist Jason McMaster providing the perfect fulcrum point to the crushing drums of Hannes Grossmmann and melodious guitars of Davide Tiso. Howling Sycamore lay their stall out with the opening track ‘Mastering Fire’ and whilst this shows much similarity to their debut release, what becomes apparent very quickly is that with ‘Seven Pathways…’, the American band have honed their sound, tightening their stranglehold on an already prolific sound. This means that as an album ‘Seven Pathways…’ flows exceptionally well over the course of its fifty minutes. However, where this album really picks up is at the back end, ‘Tempest’s Chant’ sets the precedence for ‘Sorcerer’, a track which builds up to a chaotic, almost schizophrenic crescendo with its cacophonic guitars and violent saxophone, having all the progressive rock appeal of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator at their most disharmonic, peaking at a climax before returning with something a little more peaceful and it is this which makes ‘Seven Pathways…’ just so damned good.
Yet, this album is not an easy album to ‘get’, the mixing of these genres alongside clean vocals can be a little difficult to initially enjoy; but once this album clicks, it is excellent, an absolute gem that deserves considerably more attention that it will get.
Rating : 82/100
MHF Magazine/Adam McCann