30 Oct

There’s a band from Detroit called Ritual Howls; they have an album out now, titled “Turkish Leather” (felte Records). We think it’s brilliant.


We know this not because we have any special knowledge of “Turkish Leather,” of Ritual Howls, of Detroit, of bands in general. We know this only because a brief message caught our eye, a brief message from a writer familiar with haunted locales, creepy grace and, as it turns out, werewolves.

The word that came was something about the spirit of sisters, and mercy, we can hear that, muffled as the memory may be in our head, coursing through the half-baked corridors of a mind filled with visions of the dark-cloud monk named Lenny singing similar sad songs.

Our own go-to reference point for the general atmosphere that unfolds across “Turkish Leather” is usually located somewhere in the vast and venomous fields of the Nephilim, though our initial thoughts upon repeat listening to the album’s first song, “Zemmoa,” brought something more frightening to mind. A monstrous, maddeningly perfect alienation anthem, and the start of an astonishing album that could wear that same description throughout its entirety, the insistent “Zemmoa” brings to mind nothing less fearsome than the Easybeats gone sinister, risen from the grave and manifesting a “Suspiria”-wind that blows directly through the headphones and the brain, with a creaking, brittle-bone electricity.

Certainly, none of these descriptions serve to fully explain the sound of Ritual Howls, nor the depth of “Turkish Leather” as a complete album, its brooding and beauty in equal measure, its panoramic embrace of frailty and frustration. Good thing we’re not interested in trying to fully explain Ritual Howls, nor the depth of “Turkish Leather.” We’re just listening to the werewolves.

“Turkish Leather” by Ritual Howls is available now. Thanks to Matt Maxwell for the recommendation.

“Fear takes us to that point beyond which we think we can’t go. Breathing into the center of the chest, taking that one breath directly into the heartspace, opening to the pain that feels like it’s going to do us in, teaches us that it won’t do us in. We begin to experience the spaciousness of the heart, where our harshest self-judgments and our darkest moods lighten up. We begin to understand that awareness heals; and to open to this healing, one more breath into the heartspace is all that is required.

To willingly reside in our distress, no longer resisting what is, is the real key to transformation. As painful as it may be to face our deepest fears, we do reach the point where it’s more painful not to face them. This is a pivotal point in the practice life. Feeling the limitations of our fears and breathing them into the heartspace allows us to penetrate the protective barriers that close us off. As we begin to move beyond the artificial construct that we call a “self” – the seat of all of our emotional distress – we enter into a wider container of awareness. We see that our emotional drama, however distressful, is still just thoughts, just memories, just sensations. Who we really are – our basic connectedness – is so much bigger than just this body, just this personal drama.”

Ezra Bayda, “Bursting the Bubble of Fear”


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