A few years ago I was introduced to this weird ass band out of ol’ San Fran called Howls of Ebb, and I decided to investigate. Unfortunately, at the time I had yet to really get into death metal of any kind, but almost a year later I saw the band release a new record titled “Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows” and decided to give the band another chance now that I had gotten way more into death metal. Holy shit did I love that record and still do! It opened my eyes to a new way of the genre being played, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums of last year. And now, almost another year later once again, they’ve returned and I swoop down on what they’ve to offer. But this time, they’re not alone for this new effort. This time around they’ve teamed up with the German death metal psychics known as Khthoniik Cerviiks to create a unique split the likes of which so dark that the abyss is bright in comparison.
Now, this isn’t your traditional split with there being two different cover arts; one for each band. It’s almost as if the two bands had originally made them out to be standalone EPs but somehow decided to release them as one piece but keep the individual covers to give a separate visual interpretation for both of them to call their own that encapsulate their style. Whatever the reason may be, I’m completely okay with it. I originally gravitated towards this piece was because of Howls of Ebb solely. Initially, I was honestly dismayed a little by seeing the duo only had three out of the eight tracks to call their own, but upon further investigation, I was okay with it (specifically about the length of songs overall). And right from the get-go I was already satisfied with how Howls of Ebb’s portion of the split, “With Gangrene Edges”, simply because not only does the band keep their trademark sound of limbonic death metal, but it doesn’t feel like a complete copy-and-paste move from the last album and that helps keep this new sliver of ritualistic dark that keeps the music sounding fresh. The vocals that slice through the dark return right alongside the hypnotic riffs and sinister rhythms that really know how to sink its meaty hooks into you, and when it disapparates you’re left with an empty feeling and the simple desire to hear more! Howls of Ebb is darkly magical in that regard, and after hearing their portion of this split as a fanboy as well as looking at it critically, it’s hard for me to say that I’m not impressed with this piece, and it’s the kind of thing that’ll have me coming back for years and years to simply bathe in its darkness.
The addition of Khthoniik Cerviiks onto what Howls of Ebb did was an unexpected one that I wasn’t sure of at first, but I had a level of confidence given that this German band is one the same record as a band as momentous as Howls of Ebb. Given that three out of the five tracks that Khthoniik Cerviiks’ section of the split, “Voiidwarp”, are less than three minutes (two being less than one minute) long, I suspected that the real meat would be on the other two tracks with both clocking in well over nine minutes, and I was very accurate it turns out. Where Howls of Ebb really went for the throat with their other-worldly sense of death metal that’s all consuming, Khthoniik Cerviiks goes for a bit of a different approach. “Voiidwarp” still goes for the throat with uncompromising death metal that one cannot deny, but these Germans decide to go for a more menacing sound that’s got a tinge of psychedelia spread very thinly across their sound to give it a fine layer of sinister finesse that helps make their style very intriguing. Throughout their five tracks we get haunting ambiance, incredibly satisfying riffs that show Khthoniik Cerviiks’ tendency to still give respect to their metal roots, and truly intense pieces where we can see what “Voiidwarp” is trying to embody as a piece of death metal set apart from the rest of the genre in its own little pocket dimension of horror. While these three tracks aren’t quite of a terrifying spectacle as what I might’ve expected, I still can’t say that I didn’t enjoy what Khthoniik Cerviiks brought to the table for this split. It’s a magnificent contribution that can easily stand on its own, and it’s the kind of shit that will most definitely prompt me to investigate further into this group in the future.
To call this split a surprise that I didn’t see coming would be a true understatement, especially given the fact that I didn’t even know that Howls of Ebb was releasing a new piece until less than two weeks again much less about me never once hearing of Khthoniik Cerviiks before. It’s the sort of thing that really makes you appreciate the underground because you never know what you’re going to get or when it’s gonna come, and that’s something I love. Howls of Ebb impressed me before and it’s amazing to see that they’ve done it once again. And while easily Howls of Ebb make this record a great piece just by themselves, the additional excellence that Khthoniik Cerviiks brought to the split take it over the top for me to really make “With Grangene Edges / Voiidwarp” one of the most memorable splits of the year for me. It’s got so much that you could ask for, and if you want a piece that delves into the very darkness that death metal has touched on for decades now as well as embracing the sound of its origins then you are absolutely going to want to hear these two groups in action.
“With Grangene Edges / Voiidwarp” releases on September 15th via I, Voidhanger Records!
LIKE Khthoniik Cerviiks on Facebook here.
Howls of Ebb, unfortunately, doesn’t have any sort of social media that you can follow, but do drop a like for their label of I, Voidhanger Records on Facebook to see announcements and other articles regarding the band!