END – ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’

By Dave Stewart

Unpredictable, unrelenting, crushing, frightening – these are just some of the words that you could use to describe how END sound. For those new to the party, they’re one of extreme music’s most recent supergroups, comprising members of bands from every corner of the heavy community including Counterparts, Fit For An Autopsy, Misery Signals, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Shai Hulud and Reign Supreme. That’s one hell of a resumé, isn’t it?

Their debut EP ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God’ appeared almost out of nowhere in late 2017 and shook the genre to its core, quickly earning critical acclaim and a formidable live reputation to accompany it. Just over two and a half years after that first release, they’ve unveiled their debut LP ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’. Tiny piece of advice going forwards – you’re going to want to strap yourself in for this one.

END haven’t just simply picked up where they left off. Instead, they’ve built on what they started and created something even more intimidating than before. The frantic and explosive opening moments of ‘Covet Not’ make an immediate, un-ignorable mission statement – they aren’t holding back, and they don’t care if you’re uncomfortable. An aural onslaught of blast beats, feral shrieks, and the monstrous distortion of guitarists Will Putney and Gregory Thomas, alongside bassist Jay Pepito, slowly build towards a shadowy and sludgy conclusion. You’ll find yourself stunned and breathless, and they’re just getting started.

‘Pariah’ builds on that darkness, keeping things slow and steady to allow every ounce of weight to blast through like a sledgehammer. The ending is gigantic, using drawn out walls of guitars and pounding drums to punish your eardrums whilst vocalist Brendan Murphy savagely vents his frustrations. ‘Hesitation Wounds’ is a monolithic slice of the same, dragging you by the hair through the aural equivalent of a slasher movie that ends in the most gruesome way. ‘Sands Of Sleep’ is like a lullaby for a nightmare, slipping in and out of subtle dream-like passages before thrusting you deep into purgatory. The doom and gloom in these songs is spine-tingling, but this record is at its most haunting when it’s frantic and uncontrollable.

‘Captive To My Curse’ rockets straight out of the gate and doesn’t slow down for anything. The furious drum work of Billy Rymer is at its finest here, providing a faultless and tumultuous foundation for the seething aggression that accompanies it. ‘Absence’ floods your senses with black metal vibes right from the get go, unleashing a barrage of chaos that powers its way towards a colossal closing breakdown. ‘Evening Arms’ is volatile and manic, ‘Every Empty Vein’ is menacing and infectiously raw, ‘The Reach Of Resurrection’ is harrowing and impossibly furious. The entire record is wall-to-wall punishment, and it’s glorious.

When anger builds and reaches its peak some people describe the flicking of a switch, forcing the release of all that pressure in an outburst of uncontrollable ferocity. ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ is the sound of the exact moment that switch flips. An intense chemical overload at its highest point, suspended in time for thirty minutes. It surrounds you from every angle in many different forms – anxiety, frustration, pain, terror, wrath, resentment, and pretty much everything negative you can think of. It’s terrifying in the best way possible.

The abrasive and raw guitars, the relentless and thunderous drums, the unsettling and venomous vocals, the disturbing silences and eerie spoken word samples – it all works together to create a soundtrack to a horror movie, with demons, hellhounds, and unspeakable terrors hiding around every corner. It’s a living, breathing monster that you should absolutely be scared of, but one that you’ll keep glimpsing at no matter how afraid you are.

For something that started out as a side project for all the members involved, this is quickly evolving into something much bigger than that. ‘From The Unforgiving Arms Of God’ made some serious waves through the extreme music community, and ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ has the potential to make those waves tidal. A blistering debut album from one of the most extraordinary heavy bands around right now. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

DAVE STEWART

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