In terms of cinematic doom metal, there are few albums finer The Howling Void’s fifth release ‘Runa’. It’s slow and enormous sound is one that truly provides an immersive listening experience; a collection of heavy tunes which, after hearing, suggests that any follow up would lead to disappointment. The Howling Void’s mainman, “R”, did the only sensible thing: he stepped back and allowed plenty of time to pass before unleashing another album into the wild. Almost three years in the making, 2016’s ‘The Triumph of Ruin’ does not disappoint. It’s perhaps a little softer and a little more gothic in places, but the forty minutes worth of music within very much represents some fine and brooding riffery.
The earlier releases by Texas-based The Howling Void explore an almost pure doom metal sound – all Sabbathy riffs played at funeral pace, only occasionally lightened by slow piano motifs. For doom fans, each presents interesting listening, but this fifth release ‘Runa’ is epic in almost every sense. The purer doom elements have been tempered by a greater inclusion of keyboard sounds, often lending things a more symphonic style. Yes, it is more symphonic, but nothing here would appeal to fans of those over-hyped, reasonably marketable indenti-kit symphonic metal bands who’ve spread across Europe like a plague. ‘Runa’ isn’t concerned with mixing metal with the embarrassingly twee while some woman wearing a leather corset wails incessantly; fear not – it’s just more a natural progression from previous recordings, blending the doom with a smattering of ambient black metal a la Wolves In The Throne Room. Those who want the huge and the doomy certainly won’t feel like the band has somehow sold out. This isn’t really a band, either, of course. It’s the work of just one man – the mysterious “R.” plays everything on recordings released under the Howling Void name (and he probably doesn’t wear a leather corset). The fact that a one man army could compose and perform a work as complete sounding as ‘Runa’ often does is truly astounding.