Combining technical, progressive, avant-garde, forward-thinking metal music, with old-school, classic progressive metal vocals probably shouldn’t work, but Howling Sycamore easily prove that it most certainly does. This is a band that have taken their ample experience with a multitude of different bands and used this knowledge and expertise to forge something quite different and individual.
Returning after a very well-regarded debut album, Seven Pathways to Annihilation is an expanded and upgraded development. Featuring greater restraint and atmosphere, while also pushing further and further into adventurously epic territories, these new songs are the latest example of a band sounding more like themselves than they even did on their first outing.
The band’s songwriting is exquisitely judged, incorporating various influences, metal and not, into their musical framework. The end result is an extreme progressive metal tour de force that really hits the mark.
Exotic, evocative leads and solos may be some of the more striking components of these tracks, but the underlying atypical riffs and rhythms shouldn’t be discounted either. Neither should the bass, which makes a valuable contribution to the songs, which you would hope for with a band like this. Involved and intricate drumming – as well as visceral blast beats – infests the music, providing a living, vibrant backbone to the songs.
The band’s singer is the icing on the cake. Not to be outdone by his talented bandmates, his voice has a fairly unique style to it, and his performance on this album is exemplary.
Seven Pathways to Annihilation contains 53 minutes of music that you do not want to miss out on.