THE END- Elementary (Relapse Records)
Nobody's perfect, but when it comes to releasing amazing music on a consistent basis, Relapse Records are just about the closest it gets. Due to this album being released through Relapse I decided to give it a shot without ever having heard much from the band before, and unfortunately I came out feeling pretty disappointed. This is THE END's second record for the label, though I never got around to checking out the first one aside from a couple songs on a sampler, and as the album's title Elementary
unfortunately foreshadows, this is a pretty elementary release, blending the usual styles to form what amounts to what has been come to be known as 'mathcore', one of the more ridiculous terms used to describe any rock/metal sub-genre. These Canadians are all clearly more than technically proficient musicians, a given, but the style just isn't what I particularly favor. I don't think this is a poorly executed album though, so I'm not going to completely slander it; fans of the style ought to be well-pleased with the melding of furious technical death metal riffing with the raw emotional intensity of modern hardcore and the subtlety of atmospheric post rock. All these elements are present, and the band knows how to make them function cohesively together. The vocals range from atrocious metalcore barks that specifically recall early TRIVIUM to passable emo-tinged croons. The drumming lends to the music an interesting industrial/machine-like edge a lot of the time with the repeated use of very deliberate beats, while the production has a predictably modern sound to it. Not a poorly done album by any means, but probably just not quite my style enough for me to enjoy it.
Some of the songs have good parts to them but just aren't consistently good all the way through; note "Animals", which starts with some great drumming and brutal tech-death riffing, then goes lame metalcore, before going into a cool tremolo guitar part. The only songs that I think are great all the way through are the incredibly memorable "The Never Aftermath" (a lyrical highlight for sure) and closing number "And Always...", the latter being the most ambitious tune on the album, an entirely acoustic 9-minute song with all clean singing and even a spot of saxophone included. Aside from these two songs the rest doesn't do anything for me, except make me cringe on occasion due mostly to the vocals.
This is an album that I can see a lot of people would enjoy, but for me it doesn't cut it.