End – II

End – II (ISO666)

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There are bands that mock purpose and vision. Their goal is their own purposelessness, their meandering, almost random offerings giving always an impression that what you’re hearing is just a sample, a taste, that they could always offer more, if they just… concentrated.
I don’t have any problems with these kinds of artists – hell, half of the music I listen to is improvisational. But I consider concentration and purpose merits that few musicians possess, and even fewer know how to fuel properly in their music.

Enter End, formerly a quartet, now a trio, with two albums released (I and II) and the third one awaiting release sometime in 2009. End may be Greeks, but as far as I can tell they have detached themselves from all the characteristics that would define them as a “Greek” band, or as a band from any particular national music scene, for that matter. Their roots are simple, their vision is singular. End is a black metal band. Yet their role in the realm of black metal is a tricky one; the imagery and the general aesthetic is there, yes, but it’s not that that makes them what they are. Blastbeats? Dry, razorsharp riffs? For sure, yeah, it’s all here. But that’s not that that makes them what they are, either.

In II (which is what this review is about, despite the wanderings, believe me) End has first of all, understood and distilled its influences. These are not Mayhem-worshipping boys that decided to “give it a go”. In their sound I discover more acquired tastes (a hint of early Fleurety and Manes, even Ved Buens Ende in some vocals) yet nothing that I can pinpoint clearly.
There’s a moment near the 6th-minute mark of the first track of the album, called “Dying Demon”, that End, after a relentless assault of riffing and blastbeats, decide to go midtempo. The drums keep a relatively slow beat with fills inbetween the theses, and the riffs go all cyclical and weird. And in that moment you know they’ve done it. End has created its own voice, and it’s not a voice of revolution and dissent but of urgency, a sense of time being lost, hinting both at exhilaration and despair.

The album doesn’t get boring, not so much because of diversity and changes, but because the singularity of their approach doesn’t allow you to get bored. It’s a demanding listen, but once you’re immersed, the only way out are the final seconds of the last track, a cover of the Carpathian Forest song “Pierced Genitalia”.

A little after the beginning of the fourth track, “Solus Pro Icendio Vitae”, the vocals turn from screams to crooning. The riffing and the drums become hazy, lost in the fog they helped create. The crooning (which unavoidably brings Czral in mind) gradually turns into screaming again, but it’s not because of formality or willingness to stick along with any cliche associated with black metal. Maybe I’m deluded, but I’d like to think that what I hear is what it seems – an extremely demanding process, both emotionally and physically, that brought forward the intentions and goals that these musicians had in the back of their minds. It’s almost a wonder, hearing music that completes itself by its own way of progressing and unfolding before the listeners’ ears.

The only relatively peaceful moment of II is the track “Winterfog”, a wonderful minimal piece with elliptical riffing and a simple, sparse beat. It’s a moment of, as they say, calm before the storm, before “Damned Forest” kicks in. The riff is repetitive, the drums alternate between a mid-tempo beat and double-bass fills. As it progresses, highs and lows become apparent, like mountain curves. Speed isn’t a matter, they are masters in their game, whether they play slow or fast. The travel through the “Damned Forest” leaves the listener both in awe and shock. The riffs in the middle of the journey are exactly like razors. It’s raining ice in the forest, an ice that burns, that hints of wounds and pointlessness but also of clarity and catharsis.

This winter is eternal
Eternal as their death
This desert land is fertile
By pureness, truth and strength

The relics can’t remain

End’s desert land is indeed fertile. And, unlike the relics, they will remain, and reign.

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~ by little percussionist derrida on 2009/01/19.

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