Integrity – “Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume” (Relapse)
Dwid. Integrity. Prepare for the apocalypse. Like the original vampire who’s survived numerous stakings and still refuses to die, Dwid Hellion is still going with the band he founded 30 years ago. Formed initially with no real purpose, Hellion and the Melnick brothers soon tapped into a growing phenomenon from which they would become legends – crossover. Already pioneered by the likes of early Corrosion Of Conformity, DRI and Gang Green, Integrity soon developed a far harder style that mixed the raucousness of the Cro Mags with the violence of Slayer, along with their own darkness fueled by subjects like mental illness, the occult, religion and ‘holy terrorism’. So no skateboards, no straight edge, and in fact, no life. Just pure fucking armageddon. With the ferocious guitars and brutal rhythm of the Melnicks came the hoarse, barkblast roaring of Hellion himself, as if summoning Satan himself. Soon becoming a name in Cleveland hardcore scene, it didn’t take long before Integrity’s dark gospel was being heard by metallers, hardcore crews and punks coast to coast. Musically on the verge of something truly great, on a personal level it couldn’t have been a bigger disaster with Dwid’s shit talking of other bands that would literally have them rolling into town to fight it out with him. Despite releasing ground breaking albums like “Seasons in the Size of Days” it didn’t long before the band were dropped by their label (reputedly again for personal beefs with Dwid) whereupon Integrity went through some years of musical searching before Dwid moved to Belgium. However, with a new generation of crossover bands like Hatebreed and Atreyu on the ascendancy, Dwid and Integrity soon moved into cult status, dormant but waiting to return. Ever the complex personality, Dwid continued to plot and in 2010 released a stunning comeback concept album in “The Blackest Curse”, followed by the acclaimed “Suicide Black Snake” in 2013. Now comes the howling. This 12th album is easily Integrity’s most metallic release especially in the unashamed heavy metal guitars of co conspirator Domenic Romeo, who wails solos, strangles his guitar to squeal along the lines of Tommy Victor on some of the more bizarre pieces like ‘String Up My Teeth’ which is southern boogie (!) complete with soul singer harmonies and slide guitar – while Dwid continues barking in trademark style ha ha. Then there’s ‘7 Recce Mews’ which is dark cow rock complete with echo guitar reminiscent of King Dude although Dwid preaches his dark gospel in a virtual spoken word – still amid occasional roars heh heh. Well, who said this was gonna be easy, this is Dwid we’re talking about, and reputedly a fan of Charlie M! That said, the monster might of ‘Burning Beneath The Devils Cross’ and the megaton ‘I Am The Spell’ tell you why Dwid and Integrity were such a fearsome machine and why his cult of personality is still such a force as they take you right back to those glory days on Victory with hammering drums, skull crushing evil riffs and that unmistakable bear roar, these days made all the more lethal with catchy as fuck grooves and subtle, but hardcore street credible melodies here n there. It certainly ain’t no wimp out, but definitely allows the music to be listenable and impressively memorable while still being able to hit the detonate button. With Dwid using his mouth for what its for, there’s plenty of impressive musical dexterity on show here, especially from Romeo, but all keeping in line with the beast that is, and always shall be Dwid of Integrity.