Howler

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Live review from Underground Heavy #10

1. 愛人.請早抖
2. 人生時鐘
3. 認命
4. Fly Me to Hell

The night began with, what turned out to be, an old-school style of heavy music as Howler took the stage. They seemed to have some teething trouble as their opening levels check took a bit long (this always gets on the nerves of people who organize shows). However, the licks on offer during this time, and the vocal warm-up (in the typical lightly-operatic style that so popular here) promised some interesting songs to come. They have a style that harks back to the earlier days of rock, when thrash metal hadn’t come about, and Black Sabbath or Judas Priest were still the heaviest bands around. There’s little of the thudding shredding or low-register guitars chugging away with higher guitars playing on top of them. No, their style is closer to speed metal, but poppier, like radio-friendly Motörhead. Indeed, it sometimes seems like they’re trying to be Iron Maiden and Bruce Springsteen at the same time. Now, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you may anticipate that I’m going to say something like the two styles pull the music in different directions, and the mix is a little unsatisfying; you’d be partially right, there is a little of that on 愛人.請早抖, which was quite Motley Crue-esque (I heard someone say “like Cantopop but louder”), and aside from being quite samey, they also had pacing problems. However, of all of the bands that try to mix several heavy styles, these guys actually did it well; moving from verse to chorus to solo didn’t have those crude signposts of “we’re going to play hardcore punk for 10 bars now!” or “watch out, here comes the breakdown bit” that I’ve often complained about. They managed to actually blend the styles well, and move smoothly from one to the other, which is quite rare, for which they deserve rich praise. That accomplished, however, they really do need to differentiate themselves from the tens of bands around that sound almost exactly like them, especially since their peppiness makes them not hit moments in songs as hard as metal bands would. Their guitarist in particular played some lovely solos – real finger-breaking, string-bendingones, lovely to listen to – but other than that their songs are not memorable yet. That said, there are some major positive things that they have going for them, and I really hope theb and capitalises on these.
— Shashwati Kala

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