The Howl in the Waste is a blast of fast, biting and dark metal. The music is a fast and fierce kind of black metal, clear but heavy and raw. There is a definite energy and rhythms that you can clearly feel. This sounds almost like heavy or thrash metal with raspy growls and gloomy keyboards.
And yet, there is a definite darkness you can feel. Consider how the first track throws directly you into a blast of guitars, drums and screaming vocals, with no introduction or warning. From there, it’s just a fury of cold, cruel-sounding black and thrash metal riffs, screaming vocals and lyrics about death and black magic. The few moments of quietness that you might find are deceptive. The few clean vocals are used to say things like “Kill your children”, or they can go from sick-sounding singing to screaming in one second. The only time where the music slows down is at the outro of the EP, with a spoken word part about “spawns of Ungoliant”, to go with their name.
But Ungoliantha is not a strictly Tolkien-themed band. I’d say that the outro, which is a sample from the first Hobbit movie, is meant to just create an image of a dark, corrupted world overrun with giant spiders, while in its original context it was meant to say “By the way, the spiders are coming back”. So Ungoliantha took a line from a movie and managed to give it a meaning of their own.
And really, they do most things right on this EP. The harsh vocals are raspy but easy to understand. There are also some clean vocals, but they don’t make the songs softer, rather they have a sense of unease to them, and when the vocalist is yelling, he sounds crazy. The riffs are definitely fast and heavy, but they can also convey a nice, dark and uncomfortable mood. The keyboards do a great job of complimenting the guitars. The intros to the title track and “Ghost Wanderer” are proof of that, but probably the best mix of rage, evil atmosphere and good riffs is the cover of “Hymn of the Ancient Spirit of the Forest”. This one has the EP’s best example of creative riffs and occult atmosphere. To compare it to the original, you can feel the influence of the original band, Lord Belial, over Ungoliantha, as they play the same kind of black metal full of energetic riffs and dark magic. And yet, at the same time, Ungoliantha has managed to adapt the cover to their own style, which is probably the best way to do a cover.
So overall, I liked this. It’s melodic but dark and angry, the best kind of black metal. And they know how to bring their own ideas, and write their own story, about Ungoliant or not. So fans of the band won’t be disappointed, and people discovering the band with that EP will be pleasantly surprised.