For Fans Of
When it comes to heavy music supergroups, there are a couple such bands doing the rounds right now. To name some, you’ve got Trade Wind (notably featuring members of Stray From The Path and Stick To Your Guns), the solid new outfit that is Hundred Suns (Norma Jean, ex-Dead & Divine, ex-Every Time I Die), the surprisingly underwhelming trio that is The Fever (ex-Letlive., ex-Chariot, Night Verses), and then there are the subjects of this review – End.
End, as a whole, really are the grand sum of their very solid individual parts; a band made up of a literal whos-who from the current and past realms of metal and hardcore. And it is through this heavenly-sent joining of musical forces that this collective has created one of the most consistent, most solid, and most vehemently angry hardcore/metalcore releases of 2017, ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God‘.
So just who the fuck is in this band? Firstly, on vocals, we have Counterparts frontman, Brendan Murphy, delivering what is easily his heaviest and most aggressive vocal performance to date. Across this six-track EP, the vocalist sounds more akin to that of Joe Badolato from Fit For An Autopsy, rather than, you know, Brendan from Counterparts. Speaking of that other band, behind this EP’s lashing guitars of heavy chugging and menacing harmonics is producer/engineer and actual FFAA member, Will Putney. Also joining Putney in the crushing six-string dissonance is Greg Thomas, who many will know from his three-year stint in metalcore juggernaut, Misery Signals, and who I think really helped bring a darker and heavier flavour to that band’s final LP, 2013’s mammoth ‘Absent Light‘. Rounding out End is Reign Supreme vocalist, Jay Pepito (who also fronted Blacklisted), who has now switched roles from fronting the mic to donning the bass, providing the rumbling low-end for this recently formed group. Accompanying Pepito for End’s rhythm section is tight yet frantic drummer, Andrew McEnaney, who has kept solid time in the past for the now-defunct Structures and the previously mentioned Trade Wind. Dangle my dingleberries, that’s a mental lineup! If you don’t think that’s a great roster then I genuinely feel sorry for you.
Outside of the figurative incestuous nature of this killer new project, this five-piece have also taken some wicked cues from some of modern hardcore’s most vicious acts, like your Converge’s, your Nails, your Jesus Piece’s, and your Cult Leader‘s, among others. Not only that but ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God‘ also stylistically leans more towards the sounds of Misery Signals and FFAA than the other bands from which End’s members originate from; except that End’s songs aren’t quite as heavy or as long as either of Misery’s or FFAA’s. But I feel that that really adds to what makes this EP work so well; as it remains short, heavy, to the point, has zero filler getting in the way, and remains its own entity and not just a shoe-horned act from these five musicians.
Starting with creeping death of distortion that starts off opener ‘Chewing Glass‘ – which soon gives way into violent grooves, dissonant guitars, and breakneck rhythms – this blistering track sets the chaotic pace for the rest of the EP. For the pace that follows is a vicious showing of indomitable sonic force and hateful lyrics that are drenched in both inward and external malice. From ‘Chewing Glass‘, the unflinching brutality of the EP’s second song (and what was also the band’s debut track just under a month ago), ‘Usurper‘ capitalises on its proceedings sibling so very well, and that late-game mosh section where Murphy evilly dolls out “Persecution of the soul will lead to false imprisonment/Unrelenting isolation breeds eternal suffering” is just fuck-off good.
‘Love Let Me Die‘ takes the cake for the shortest yet fastest song of these half-dozen tracks, somehow taking the speed of End to new heights, while also interjecting techier riffs in the whirlwind process. By the time the EP’s title track rolls around, End’s formula does show itself fully under the blackened sun of this release’s sound and tone. But that’s still fine by me, as the band have found their own sound and stuck well within as they do it scarily well. Plus, this is a 17-minute EP! ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God‘ is over before you know it, and that only begets more and more playthroughs.
One of my personal favourite moments of the five-piece’s debut arrives on the penultimate track, ‘Necessary Death‘, where a brooding build-up section of drum fills, distorted spoken word vocals, and eerie feedback-ing guitars prelude a ludicrously heavy breakdown that hits at the 2:08 mark; the kind of blissfully insane moment that’ll fuck up unsuspecting punters and unfortunate stages when played live. Finally, with the exception of the bridge section in the title track, the only real moment of quiet this EP receives is during the middle-eight of the final song, ‘Survived By Nothing‘. And even, that’s only so End can create a harder-hitting dynamic for the devastatingly heavy and ever-slowing cacophonous noise of the song’s finale; which leaves you with nothing but a sense of imposing dread and an itch that needs to be scratched again and again.
Straight up, End is the very best kind of supergroup and one the better such bands of recent memory in heavy music no less. End’s music captures not only what made their other bands great to begin with, but this project has also allowed these five respective musicians to find a newish sound for their repertoires as well. ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God’ has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 since its announcement only a few weeks back and it has fully delivered and then some. This EP even puts to shame the no doubt solid records that have come from its other members, such as Fit For An Autopsy’s ‘The Great Collapse’, Reign Supreme’s ‘Testing The Limits of Infinite’ and Misery Signals’ ‘Absent Light’. (It also made me completely forget that Counterparts will actually have a new LP out on September 22nd. Whoops!)