The End and Car Bomb…Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007 @ 9:20am » permalink
I've never been huge on The End, but "Elementary", their latest Relapse Records full-length, shows quite an impressive degree of growth. As I was generally on the fence about the fast 'n' chaotic metalcore of their debut (though I could cite its potential), I actually never even heard "Within Dividia", so I'm unsure as to where it falls along the line of progression demonstrated on this album, but compared to those early days this strikes me as an almost entirely new band. Remnants of those speedy, discordant metalcore bursts still linger, but they've been usurped by rhythmic post-hardcore dissonance and darker atmospherics revolving around somber drones and ringing guitar textures that create something of a "spacey" quality. There's a lot of layering going on, and certain degrees of complexity are still evident throughout the listen, but there's a far greater emphasis on actual songwriting now, so a much wider range of tempos and dynamics are present – in a fluid manner, mind you – and for my money that really pays off. Additionally, the vocal performance is now dominated by singing (which can be awesomely emphatic at its best), reserving fits of aggressive screaming for only those areas that truly call for it – again demonstrating the group's newfound attention to the compositional "big picture".
Elsewhere, the recording is fucking great, with a super crisp mix that really lets some of the subtler details surface throughout the album. The rhythm section alone sounds like a million bucks, with the massively dense basslines resting just beneath the core while the natural warmth of the percussion runs circles around the center – never "flashy", but always tactfully breaking out when it makes sense to do so. The softer, almost ambient soundscape leanings that occasionally creep in for added effect sound slick, too. The disc is then packaged in a handsome digipack with some very cool artwork that ties into elements of the lyrical imagery. The band photos are rather silly and have much more in common with today's ever-popular "fashioncore" niche than The End's music ever will, which certainly won't do the band any favors in the eyes of less open-minded fans confused by their continued shift in approach, but then… there was probably no hope for some of those listeners anyway, right? I'm not saying I'm totally floored by this material, but this is the best music I've heard from The End to date, and I'm very curious to see where they're gonna go next. It's always a good thing to see a band separate themselves from the morass of an overpopulated niche of the genre in favor of a more artistically creative outlet…
As always, make the grab if you dig the tunes. This one's not out until the first week of February, but you can pre-order it as we speak: