The Von Howlers – The Von Howlers
CD: 14 Songs, 35:23 Minutes
Styles: Electric Hard Rock, Thrash Rock
This is NOT a blues album. Make no mistake, genre aficionados: Nary a blue note can be found on the sensually-scorching self-titled debut from four boisterous blokes in Portland. What The Von Howlers have actually done is take riffs that sound like the blues and follow them with blistering electric-guitar compositions that go for volume over melody and lyrical content. The equivalent of fourteen separate atom bombs detonating in one’s ears and consciousness, these fourteen selections have one advantage: they’re all originals. Methinks that this quartet would have done better, and put more effort, into covers that anyone would recognize as blues. Instead, they go all out – and play every instrument to the absolute max – in their real niche: thrash rock.
Who are the Von Howlers? Individually, they’re Danny on drums, Buddy on “vox” (“vocals” is too specific of a descriptor of what he performs here), Eddie on bass, and Sammy on guitar. Eric Rabe guest stars on saxophone for tracks one and five, “8-Ball” and “Mermaid’s Cove.” Some fans I’ve personally known have said that the blues and booze go together: You can’t have one without the other. This band’s music fits both adages to a T. The same goes if one’s drug of choice starts with a “C” and rhymes with “Rogaine.” Indeed, one of the early songs on the album mentions it as a great substance to consume. Awash with references like these and crude sexual ones, the Von Howlers will never be mistaken for so-called “SJW’s” or being politically correct.
In the interests of research, Ms. Wetnight discovered several of the posse’s live performances have been uploaded to YouTube. Drenched in the dizzying glow of flashing spotlights and surrounded by dancing fans, they’re in their element. This is not the kind of blues you’d hear at Buddy Guy’s Legends, or even Chord on Blues in St. Charles, Illinois. This is also not the kind of blues you’d hear in a major feature film. This is the kind of blues you’d hear at the roughest, rowdiest bar you can imagine, coupled with the loudest, most insane PA you can imagine.
With all that said, Constant Readers, what are you really in for here? This, for instance:
Track 10: “Ayudame” – If you don’t listen carefully, you might not realize that the title is Spanish for “Help me!” Having studied that language for seven years, in high school and college, I can definitively tell you that the “u” should have an accent on it. No matter, though. It’s plenty clear here, the desperate cry of a tormented soul facing “skeletons in my closet, monsters under my bed, blood on my hands and the Devil inside my head. I know they all want some. I know they all want some. And they just want to have fun…” Then the four of them scream the title for all they’re worth. WARNING: This song made my cat go crazy. True story.
The Von Howlers certainly aren’t for everyone, but for hard/thrash rockers, they’re perfect!