From what I understand about Doom Metal, which lies somewhere between "none at all" and "that's a cool riff," Howl is a pretty straightforward Doom Metal band. They hail from Providence, RI, just like a band that I do understand very well: Verse. There, that's my knowledge on Howl.

On "Bloodlines," they seem to be good at what they do; there's no real effort to "reinvent the wheel," but there is absolute mastery of their art, which is always great to hear. For me, Doom Metal is pretty par-for-course boring, but if you like Doom Metal, I feel like Howl is more than likely a band that you are into. And, if you do like Doom Metal, you're going to comment on this and let me know that I have no idea what I'm talking about: you're right.

"Bloodlines" almost perfectly averages 4 minutes per song, which is impressive, and the sheer tone of the guitars is nothing less than incredible. The heaviness of this band--regardless of vocals at all--is worthy of some praise. Songs like "Down So Low" are closer to Converge's "Hell To Pay" than mainstream Doom Metal, and the range of metal sub-genres they explore almost always pays off. From Thrash songs like "Midnight Eyes" to the groove-heavy "With a Blade," the listener is perfectly in sync with the band.

The solos. Goddamn, the solos. I don't even like solos. I never have. But every step of the wah wah petal on these tracks gives me the unholiest tone boner of all time.

While some things are definitely lacking from this release, like vocal quality and lyrical ability, this album is a pretty straightforward look at Doom Metal, and it kicks ass for what it is. I give it a 4/5: primarily for the sheer talent of the musicians, and because I have no fucking idea how to rate metal bands.