Review: End Reign, MMXXII (A389 Recordings, 2022)

I totally should've written about this three weeks ago when it first dropped, but I'm old and decrepit and thus sometimes need an extra kick in the ass to make things happen. If anyone remains imprudently unaware, End Reign is one of those "supergroup"-type projects where I've gotta unload one of these head-spinning lineup breakdowns:

The project debuted with a two-song, six-and-a-half-minute cassingle (yep, you read that right) through the back-with-a-vengeance A389 Recordings, and opener "The Hunger" delves right into dark, midpaced metalcore that leans hard on the metal, which is entirely to be expected if you're familiar with the members' primary endeavors—and you pretty much have to be, right!? Absolutely searing vocals and churning rhythms over subtly winding bass runs and galloping drum grooves, with a well-crafted guitar solo offering the lone crumbs of melody.

"Divine Abysmal End" then takes a thrashier approach and also brings in some quick, gnashing, death metal-esque riffs; as well as understated discordant textures and divebomb-laden bursts that eventually give way to another scorching lead passage. I must say, musically this one gives me some pretty considerable Seasons in the Size of Days vibes at times, and that's never a bad thing!

Apparently these are alternate takes from what will eventually appear on an album, which is curious, because the production certainly doesn't sound like a roughed-in demo, by any means. I wouldn't flinch if you told me these were straight from the final sessions. My only miniscule commentary might be that with such a monster bassist in Legere, I can find myself wishing there was a hint more breathing room for the bass lines. You can hear the bass, though, and given the fiery and explosive nature of the material, it does make sense that guitars and vocals would lead the charge (without overpowering, mind you).

In my aforementioned old age, I probably don't immediately melt into a gushing fanboy as quickly as I did 20-some years ago, but sitting here with these tracks on repeat for about an hour, it undeniably sinks in that: shit, this is a big deal! I'm damn sure eager to hear the full-length when the time comes...

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