Darkness abounds on Integrity’s ninth release, Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume. The trio conjures imagery of black magic and devilry over a serrated blend of hardcore and metal. “Blood Sermon” morphs from black metal to d-beat throughout the song’s three minute duration. Equal parts Darkthrone and Discharge, the track provides a glimpse of the album’s sound. The Slayer-esque “Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame” is speedfest with hacksaw guitars and dissonant guitar leads. It is a short, but relentless track that packs a punch. Things come to a gloomy halt towards the middle of the record. “Serpent At The Crossroads” and “Unholy Salvation Of The Sabbatai Zevi” are slow, crunching dirges with melancholy, sinuous riffs. The classical guitar leads provide the perfect contrast to the downbeat mood on these tracks. There is a gothic beauty here, especially on “Unholy Salvation.” The band takes the swampy riffs of Autopsy and combines it with Gothenburg inspired leads. “String Up My Teeth” is a mid-tempo rocker more in tune with Motorhead or 80s rock. However, it fits on the album and has a nice bluesy solo.
Integrity take risks on Howling, which makes it a good record. Bands have mixed hardcore and metal for over 30 years now. However, Integrity take things further by blending thrash, doom, hardcore and black metal on 11 tracks. It manages to not sound disjointed and still retains a degree of complexity to it. The crunchy production is a highlight as it encapsulates the dark and menacing tone of the music. It is not muffled or tinny as the instruments blare from the stereo.
Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume, is a dark but fun record that show Integrity can hang with the young guns. Last year, Integrity’s label mates Ringworm released Snake Church, which has a sound similar to Howling. It makes one wonder if Integrity heard that record and had a creative spark, or wanted to fire back. Regardless, the band sounds great on here and has not lost its edge in its 29 year career. The music on this record is the stuff nightmares are made of.
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