Saturday, December 15, 2012


End - III
Black Hate Productions, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Catastrophe
2. Self-Eating Mass
3. Still in Flesh
4. In the Womb of Sick
5. Lavish Gloom
6. Ugly and Bygone
7. The Largest Hearse
8. Megalomania

What seemed to start off as a promising new and productive project seemed to have stalled out for years. After six years wondering if a "III" would ever exist, the band finally returns with their best release in my opinion. Artistically this is certainly their most ambitious. It comes as a beautiful digi-pak with a full booklet featuring art and lyrics. It's a really well thought out product in this regard.

"III" starts off with a punishingly fast opening song with "Catastrophe" and I would have been fine if the album basically progressed in this fashion. End write well enough to make the blistering fast paced style pretty interesting to listen to... but when we get to "Self-eating Mass" we are in for a real treat. Not only does the riffing emulate some styles of early Keep of Kalessin to me, but the song eventually hits a lull and then we are in some very dark and brooding slow passages. It turns out this album has a huge amount to offer and is actually a very varied album. Its almost incredible to look at the grand scope of the album and realize they really made this kind of variation work to their advantage. Every track feels like it absolutely belongs with the rest. When they hit "In the Womb of Sick" you really feel like they're channeling Deathspell Omega. The off-putting guitar line feels reminiscent of the likes of "Diabolus Absconditus." This album really is a monster of a release and has a lot of extremely stellar moments. While none of the single pieces are original, I think the blend that is executed on here is very different. Similar to what Rêx Mündi's "IHVH" attempts to be as well.

If you had to ask me about this album at the time of 2009 when I first got, I would mention it as a very well done album. The recording quality, the layout, the delivery, everything is top notch. The songs are all solid and very good to listen to. But after a few years where does this album stand? For me, it certainly holds up over the years as a spectacular performance. However, I think "III" is an album that is much more meaningful in the context of its release, which I'm not sure I really saw initially. Today, I feel like this album really encompasses the state of Black Metal at the time. It really seeks to distill the influences of the prior few years into a single release. The period I'm discussing is primarily the rise of the French scene from about 2003 to 2008 or so. France's Black Metal scene, although always present, imply exploded and people couldn't get enough. Meanwhile we also saw the return of bands like Keep of Kalessin, which made a lot of people remember their early releases, which are quite exceptional. So, "III" blends this early epic Norwegian style into France's Black Metal and really gives us an excellent epilogue to a particular chapter in Black Metal's life. That's how I would see this album now, at any rate. It is certainly of the highest quality and in that regard I find it hard to believe Black Metal fans wouldn't appreciate this on many levels. I think in the context of a celebration of the scene of that era, this album would stand out a lot more... unfortunately End's intermittent release timing makes it hard for them to stand out in the scene. However, people are listening and hoping for more in the future. This release is truly a monumental undertaking and a wonderful journey... hopefully this is not the end of the project. If it is though, what a high note to close with.

End - II
ISO666 Releases, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dying Demon
2. Funeral Pyre
3. Defalcation of Psychopathia
4. Solus Pro Incendio Vitae
5. Winterfog
6. Damned Forest
7. Nebula
8. Pierced Genitalia (Carpathian Forest Cover)

After a short wait End has returned with their second opus.  Strangely this release is far more mature in just about everything.  The cover has the same basic simplistic idea, but at least the logo is printed over a forest background.  Upon opening the booklet even the paper is of a different quality, it's a heavy sort of card-stock that has a textured feel to it.  While this gives the album a different aesthetic, it makes for difficult reading if you wanted to get through the lyrics.  At least it looks very pretty and clearly exudes a wonderfully dark feeling.

This is pretty much how the music fits in as well.  For the most part the tracks are quite epic and not just in length, but also in sound.  The only track that throws back to basic Black Metal is "Funeral Pyre", which has a very simplistic rhythm and a very raw feel.  This slows the pace down a bit after "Dying Demon", which is fast and very raging for the majority of the song.  My favorite song on here is "Solus Pro Incendio Vitae" and it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the album as well.  This is fine because it gives the album variety and really shows how well End can compose a song.  It sort of reminds me of the kind things Horna does very well.

One thing that does seem to get annoying is that every song seems to start with turning the guitars on and hearing feedback.  Sure, some songs can start that way... but most of these songs do!  The only ones that don't are these beautiful acoustic interludes like "Winterfog" and "Nebula".  I wish they had dispersed them around the album more, but oh well.  They are beautiful songs nonetheless.

The album closes with a Carpathian Forest cover.  They do a great job on this and I really liked listening to it, but since the acoustic tracks aren't dispersed well it gives the second half of the album an "acoustic" then "metal" iterated feel.  Overall I thought this album was very well done.  It's better than the first and if you liked the first I can't imagine you would hate this.  The writing is just so much better.  Despite the album having varied styles of Black Metal, I still felt like they stayed true to a cohesive atmosphere throughout.

Unfortunately I could not find a sample of "Solus Pro Incendio Vitae" on youtube, so you will just have to hear "Dying Demon" instead.  I apologize.  If anyone out there reads this and wants to make a video for that song, please do and let me know!

End - I
ISO666 Releases, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Sick
2. Pitiless Paranormal Reek
3. Nails and Forests
4. Humanitarianism
5. Come Blackness Feed Me
6. Pessimism

This was initially a fairly random purchase on my behalf, mainly because I thought the cover was interesting.  I’m not sure why I found it interesting, there’s only a band logo and the album is titled “I,” which is probably one of the things I found intriguing.  They seemed to be overly simplified.  Regardless they were also on a record label that I know has released fairly good material, so I decided to give this a shot.  All the descriptions I saw for this band referenced them to being like Carpathian Forest and Darkthrone, so needless to say I wasn’t expecting anything amazing or impressive, but possibly some fairly decent Black Metal at the very least.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was immensely shocked or blown away from what I was subjected to, but I was pleasantly surprised.  What I thought would be another rather blasé Black Metal band turned out to have a little more to them than that.  The descriptions aren’t entirely wrong because I do hear Carpathian Forest and Darkthrone influence in this band, especially on a track like “Humanitarianism.”  However, the epic track “Nails and Forests” reminds me more of a blend of Naer Mataron’s “Skotos Aenaon” and Bathory’s “Blood Fire Death.”  So basically this isn’t just one uniform band playing six songs in the same vein, they actually switch it up.  There’s also an interesting more intangible atmosphere to their music that separates them from the likes of the Norwegian scene.  I can’t describe this in full, but I have a feeling it’s a Greek thing, I hear the same underlying epic styled feel in bands like Nocternity, Naer Mataron, and Macabre Omen.  It must be a Hellenic Black Metal thing, because you don’t hear this specific kind of epic feel in other regions.  No, I’m not saying you only have epic feeling Black Metal in Greek Black Metal, you hear it elsewhere, and this is just a specific brand of that feeling.  End does fall into the trappings of generic Black Metal from time to time, as you can hear on “Humanitarianism” and some riffing on “Come Blackness Feed Me,” but it is not so overwhelmingly generic that it takes away from the uniqueness and feel of their music.  Though if you notice the closing of the album “Pessimism” it is a very Naer Mataron styled outro.

Lyrically “I” is primarily misanthropic, favoring the ideologies that humans are parasites and genocide would be our saving grace.  “Nails and Forests” takes on a more nature oriented approach to things, which I suppose is good, because it switches things and doesn’t dwell on one topic.  Although, I happen to enjoy a misanthropic approach rather than a Mother Nature approach to lyrics.  Either way, the lyrical content is pretty usual until you hit “Humanitarianism,” which I think is primarily a satirical song.  Unfortunately the lyrical content for “Humanitarianism” is stupid, to be blunt.  Musically the song sounds like traditional Black Metal worship, back to some of the more Punk oriented roots of Black Metal before it really started to sever that tie over the years.  So that fits the lyrical content at least.  I suppose they knew what they were doing in the end.  I guess it just sort of sticks out given the rest of the lyrical prose.

Overall this was a descent listen.  I happen to pull it out enough to know that even months after I’ve purchased the album I’ll still pull this out to enjoy and that’s a good sign for any album.  Some albums I get are good, but then after a few months you lose interest in them, “I” managed to keep my interest enough with its atmosphere that I want to hear it more than a few times.

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