Opening with a barrage of blasts beats and lashes of vicious, lacerating guitar riffing alongside roars from vocalist Brendan Murphy, the new END album Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face proves ferociously pummeling from the very first moments.
The tones running through this album, which is available as of June 5 via Closed Casket Activities, feel consistently piercingly harsh, and the metallic hardcore monstrosity feels like the sonic equivalent of drilling a hole through your own arm — or something of the sort. Even calling the band metallic hardcore feels like it doesn’t quite do their sound justice, because the group frequently evolves their sound into a death metal ferocity that feels like a barrage of sonic gut punches.
Poignantly, amidst the relentless fiery hailstorm of the band’s music, they deliver numerous standout moments. For instance, the brutal closing breakdown on “Pariah,” which was released as a single, feels unforgettable (as does much of the album). There, the band sound like they’re blasting huge sticks of dynamite in the earth, and the ensuing blasts are knocking us all off our feet and back into oblivion. On the follow-up track, “Absence,” the band utilize a particularly energetically shifting rhythm that makes the listening experience feel somewhat like rushing through some dark forest or alley way as some kind of threat rushes up behind.
There’s a power that’s easily tangible in the brutal riffing and cacophonous avalanches of the drum hits — but it’s not so much an energy-delivering power as it’s utterly devastating to everything in its path, like a musical tank.
Besides Murphy, who doubles as the vocalist for the melodic hardcore band Counterparts, END features metal/hardcore producer and Fit For An Autopsy member Will Putney on guitar, Misery Signals member Greg Thomas also on guitar, Jay Pepito from the hardcore punk bands Blacklisted and Reign Supreme on bass, and Billy Rymer rounding out the group on drums. Rymer is a former member of mathcore heroes The Dillinger Escape Plan, and his agile, angular drumming rocks this record.
It feels strange to think that something as devastatingly brutal as the death metal-infused, metallic hardcore attack of this album could feel relistenable, but it does. There’s a really cohesive songwriting that defines this whole piece, which likely amplifies the impact of the monstrous hardcore brutality big time. After all, there’s not just unwieldy chaos — there’s brutal breakdown after breakdown that are tied together with electric streaks of riffing swinging like live power lines that have been severed from their poles. Tracks including “Hesitation Wounds” and the album closer “Sands of Sleep,” which slow down comparatively speaking into a sludgier maelstrom, let the electrified menace shine especially brightly.