There’s no doubting that INTEGRITY are one of the most important and influential metalcore bands ever. However it almost feels odd to describe them as metalcore in 2017 given what people expect from the genre now. It is highly unlikely that INTEGRITY would appeal to someone who thinks ASKING ALEXANDRIA or MEMPHIS MAY FIRE are great examples of metalcore. Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume is their tenth studio album, coming four years after their last album. As the title suggests this is a dark and nightmarish record and it might just be one of the best albums INTEGRITY have released.
From the opening moments of the intro track Fallen To Destroy a dark and oppressive atmosphere sets in. Chilling guitars mesh with haunting vocals before the first proper track completely rips your face off. The blasts of black metal in Blood Sermon further add the darkness of the album. Dwid Hellions throat shredding vocal performance never lets up from start and sound completely horrible in the best way.
The albums first few track rip by at breakneck pace, with Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame being the standout. The wailing guitars conjure up memories of SLAYER at their best. However soon after this the pace starts to drop and gives way to some of the albums most haunting and oppressive tracks. This change up that starts with Serpents Of The Crossroads really demonstrates the variety of this album. It mixes foreboding doom elements with the sort of guitar melodies you might expect to hear on an IRON MAIDEN album. This continues for the next few songs and with less craft this could have derailed the album. But it just fits the tone of the album so perfectly.
The album’s concept is based around the apocalypse and the sound of the album mirrors this brilliantly. As mentioned before there’s just a constant darkness to everything on the album. Even on a song like String My Teeth Up, which sounds almost like MOTORHEAD at points is still so devastatingly heavy. It feels a bit like one final curve ball in the album’s closing moments and just shows the musical dexterity of INTEGRITY. That they drop what is effectively a hard rock song before ending the album on another drawn out nightmare of a track.
Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume really is so much more than just another metalcore album. In a year that has already been filled with brilliant and challenging albums from heavier bands, this still manages to stand out among the rest. It’s not an easy listen in the slightest but it’s an album that deserves your full attention. Even after almost thirty years, INTEGRITY and Dwid Hellion in particular are proving why they are some of most important bands in heavy music. This is without a doubt one of the essential heavy albums of 2017.
Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume is out now via Relapse Records.
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