Fourth full length in a little less than a five-year period for the U.S. one-man band The Howling Void, dedicated since the beginning to a funeral doom with distinctly atmospheric and melodic characteristics. The prolificacy of Ryan, the musician behind this moniker, has allowed us to hear good things, such as the excellent debut Megaliths Of The Abyss, and others less convincing though formally impeccable, such as the subsequent Shadows Over The Cosmos and The Womb Beyond The World: in reviewing the latter last year, I could not help but notice how an obvious improvement from a technical-executive point of view had been thwarted by a songwriting rather folded in on itself and unable, therefore, to touch the right chords of the listeners. From this point of view, the Texan musician had provided a comforting sign of newfound inspiration with the excellent ep Runa, released last March, and Nightfall, fortunately, confirms that impression by going on to equal, at least as a value, the debut record. The melodic openings, which had been highlighted in the fifteen minutes of music contained in Runa, are stripped of the folk component going to bind with those ambient sounds that had been more cross than delight on the occasion of The Womb Beyond The World, and from this union comes a mournful, melancholic and almost entirely instrumental funeral. In fact, the contribution of vocals is limited to a few almost whispered verses in four of the six tracks, nothing to do with the virulence of a growl capable of disproportionately amplifying the tragic accents of the compositions: the flow of sound is led by a guitar that embroiders with satisfying slowness splendid melodies resting on a solemn carpet of keyboards. If, therefore, the ambient matrix in this sense is preponderant, Ryan’s strength on this occasion is his ability to never lose sight of the harmonic development of the songs, thus preventing the compositions from being merely a sterile succession of notes. Nightfall is obviously a work not easy to assimilate and aimed only at those capable of being enveloped by these sounds that favor melancholic moods, eschewing for once the harshness and drama that characterize the genre on other occasions. In the long run, the lack of a vocal intervention capable of adding a hint of pathos comes to the fore, but the fact remains that Ryan manages to come up with work all the same that will not struggle to make inroads among those who appreciate, for example, a band like Ea. After all, those who choose to play funeral certainly do not do so to please the masses, and, with Nightfall, The Howling Void reintroduces itself among the emerging names capable of constituting a viable alternative to the more established bands in this stylistic sphere.

2013 – Solitude Productions