Howling Sycamore - Howling Sycamore album review
Ephel Duath frontman leads a roll call of experimental extremity
Davide Tiso, the point man for this gathering – which includes Hannes Grossmann, Jason McMaster, Bruce Lamont and Kevin Hufnagel – has done the heavy lifting. In describing this latest prog-metal supergroup, he’s pegged Howling Sycamore as a mix of “extreme metal drumming, layered down tuned guitars and old-school prog metal singing with baritone sax freak-outs plus midera Death guitar solos.” Many fail to execute on-paper such descriptions, but HS live up to the hype, as controlled strains of the sinewy and labyrinthine riffing of Tiso’s Ephal Duath are given a greater sense of form by Hannes’ accented drumming and Jason’s vocal phrasing. The songs gravitate between creepy darkness and off-the-wall experimentalism; Naked City-esque sax wails are buttressed against acoustic psychedelic folk – but fortunately the moments of cohesion greatly outweigh impenetrable esoterica to make for a challenging, but accessible listen.