Howls of Ebb / Khthoniik Cerviiks – With Gangrene Edges / Voiidwarp Review

On paper, a split featuring the Bay Area’s Howls of Ebb and Germany’s Khthoniik Cerviiks is about as perfect a pairing as one can imagine. In their respective young careers, both have been among the better bands combining overtly weird extreme metal with a penchant for (admittedly very different) progressive tendencies. Howls of Ebb is a mixture of rickety, rubbery black/death attack and the occasional psychedelic vibe, while Khthoniik Cerviiks combines the feeling of falling into a black metal briar patch with the progressive thrash of Voivod. Somewhat different sources and sounds, but a seemingly like-minded philosophy for making heavy metal.

CD release date: August 11, 2017.
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions.

Vinyl release date: September 15, 2017.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records.

It’s unfortunate then, that this split has to come with the news that Howls of Ebb have recently decided to call it quits, with this likely their final statement. This, combined with the fact that Khthoniik Cerviiks takes up more than 10 more minutes of this split than does Howls of Ebb gives With Gangrene Edges / Voidwarp a bit of an odd context, as if it’s merely two EPs that were tossed together at the last minute (the presence of two titles and two covers furthers this impression). Musically, however, the release is tip top, providing Howls of Ebb with a quality bookend to their career, and Khthoniik Cerviiks with a space to further explore their simultaneously backward- and forward-thinking vision.

The Howls side, With Gangrene Edges, is about as straightforward as one could imagine the band getting, but only in comparison to their earlier works. This is still slippery, noisy, filthy material, equal parts rickety speed and hefty clang; just imagine riding a Slip ‘N Slide down a massive trash heap and you’ll an idea for exactly how dirty and fun this band can be. While none of these three songs explore the slightly psychedelic vibes of Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows or particularly The Marrow Veil, it all maintains the feeling that this very unnatural-sounding music comes extremely naturally to these musicians.

 

However, as nice of an adios as With Gangrene Edges is for Howls of Ebb, Khthoniik Cerviiks kind of wipes the floor with them here. This is less of a statement about the former than it is about the latter, as KC sounds like a band just beginning to discover their abilities, and have designed a full arc with Voiidwarp (intro, interlude, and outro included). The two actual songs here are monsters, largely starting with the sound of SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia), but going even further down the Voivod-as-extreme-metal path. “Spiiral Spiire Stiigmata” deliciously riff-salads its way through slinky tremolo picking, oddball atmospherics, and a ton of slinky, dissonant, Piggy-ish harmonic progressions, and even includes an unabashedly cock-rocky solo section right smack dab in the middle. “Come to the Subeth,” meanwhile, shows exactly how catchy this band can be with its wild trill-tremolo trade-offs and violently hooky chorus.

For all of the above reasons, it can’t really be said that With Gangrene Edges / Voidwarp works as a cohesive split album. But you know what? This is more than just fine. Nearly every split fits that descriptor, and the music contained herein beats the tar out of most similarly constructed releases. This is more than worth the dime of fans of all things odd, abrasive, experimental, and barbaric. It’s a fitting farewell for one band, and just the latest leg on what has already been a wild, wonderful trip for the other.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *