Artist: END

Title: Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face

Label: Closed Casket Activities

Rating: 8/10

Words: Emanuel Matos

Side-projects by veteran musicians are often doomed to be one-trick ponies or fall into complacency. Once in a while, the stars do align, and we get to witness the bloom of something special. END’s new album Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face is a prime example of the latter.

After the very well received 2017 debut EP The Unforgiving Arms Of God, END took their time to refine their brand of belligerent hardcore-meets-grind, now presenting us with a full-length that does not lend itself to passive listens.

It’s extreme, dissonant, a clenched fist full of angst and rage

Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face is everything you can expect from a collective formed by current and former members of bands such as Counterparts, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, and Reign Supreme. It’s extreme, dissonant, a clenched fist full of angst and rage.

Opener “Covet Not” does an impressive job in introducing you to END’s amalgamation of different sub-genres but also in setting the mood. It’s disorienting, a shock to the senses that lets you know this is a band that wastes no time and leaves very few stones unturned.

Follow-up “Pariah” shows us a band playing it safer, displaying a reliable brand of metalcore without venturing too much into the poles. The same can be said about midway track “Hesitation Wounds”, which gives away the calculated efforts that went into making a balanced tracklist despite the explosiveness of the album as a whole.

However, it’s in the moments where the band ventures out into darker territory and lets havoc reign free that we get a glimpse of the true beast hiding in plain sight

The premeditation is also perceptible in the sonic narrative that the record is laid upon. From early on we get an eerie sensation, substantiated by what sounds like excerpts of psychotherapy consultations at the tail end of particular tracks. Producer/engineer Will Putney – who started END as a passion project and doubles as a guitar player – does a great job at introducing sound elements that make you feel like you’re walking through poorly lit corridors of a haunted mental hospital.

However, it’s in the moments where the band ventures out into darker territory and lets havoc reign free that we get a glimpse of the true beast hiding in plain sight. In the black metal of “Absence” or the mathcore of “An Apparition” and “Every Empty Vein” we see the group go through a full metamorphosis, and the result is simultaneously empowering and frightening.

Closing track “Sands of Sleep” is a brilliantly written final chapter. The melodic guest vocals lull you into a drowsy state, and the guitars create the necessary crescendo before the whole world comes crashing down in an all-engulfing wall of sound. It reveals a concoction of shadow and light that we’d love to see the band explore further in a future release.

Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face confirms END as a supergroup that is more than the sum of its partS

Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face confirms END as a supergroup that is more than the sum of its parts. The influences of bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan are all too evident, yet this release sees New Jersey ensemble exploring the dark edges of hardcore with a sense of purpose, which cements their distinct identity.

They do miss a few shots by focusing a little bit too much on musical dexterity over cohesion at times, as often is the case when a lot of talent is gathered in the same room. Still, when a binding effect is achieved, the beauty that can be found within the beast and the drive with which the group lets out its demons is genuinely cathartic. 

Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face is out now Closed Casket Activities.

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