“Have you ever heard of The End?”
“The end of what?”
“The End, the band.”
“The end of what band?”
“Never mind, just go get that album called Elementary. It is really good.”
The above is an actual conversation I had with a friend about The End’s third outing.
Before this album arrived at my door, I had never heard of The End either. I can’t really blame my friend for never having heard of them. I mean, I hadn’t, and they aren’t exactly a band that is tearing up the charts. Still, this first experience with this metal/mathcore band out of Canada can be called a successful union of music and potential audience.
The End is an intriguing mash of alt rock, doom metal, metalcore, screamo, extreme metal, and prog metal. I have also seen the term mathcore used in describing them, though I am still trying to figure that one out. Regardless of how you choose to categorize them, there is no denying the songwriting ability they have. While comparisons can be made to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Isis, and Tool, The End manage to remain separated from the pack.
Elemental has a strong focus on songcraft. The sound is at times chaotic, but it never loses focus on the song. Unlike other experimental bands I have listened to — who employ odd time signatures and rhythm patterns for the sake of having them — the sound here is considerably more restrained. Which is not a bad thing. It is the sign of a band who have taken their skills, refined them, and took the time to craft interesting music.
As I listen to the album, I get a strong sense that this band is on the verge of breaking out in a big way. In particular, the first single, “Throwing Stones,” seems to be a cut that was created in a calculating manner to get them noticed.
This has SINGLE written all over it, with its primarily clean vocals and strong Tool overtones. Sometimes you need to have a song like that to get over to a wider audience, so that once you have their attention, you can unleash something a bit different like “Animals,” or “The Moth and I,” or “Awake?”. You use the single to draw them in before springing the trap.
Elementary gets off to a heavy start with “Dangerous,” a song that makes me bang my head and pump my fist. The heavy riffing and crushing drums must make this an insane live track. Track two, “The Never Ever Aftermath,” introduces a slightly less heavy, yet doomier atmosphere. We also get a cleaner, screamo style of vocal growling from Aaron Wolff. It is a style that permeates this album — but in a good way.
Epic is a good way to describe the album as a whole. The music provides the expansive feel, while the vocals deliver a more heartfelt and personal side. It is definitely intriguing. The twin guitar interplay, backed with sporadically excellent drumming, and a bass sound that reminds me a bit of when I saw Mudvayne live (not the studio recorded version) — all of these elements build to a wall of sound that proves absolutely massive. Meanwhile, the vocals draw you in for a more personal experience.
Through all of the aggression and power shown, there is still another side that you would probably not expect from a band such as this. The final track, “And Always…,” is an acoustic driven song which borders on a power ballad. It is a vastly different experience from all that had come before. I can honestly say that I was caught offguard by the quiet acoustic guitar and piano keys accompanying the soft vocals. It is a sprawling nine minute song which builds dramatic tension and gloom. It is also an eerily beautiful, and different way to end a metal album.
Bottomline: This is a good album. Though perhaps not as envelope pushing as similar bands, The End still stand apart with this solid genre mashing release. If you are looking for a solid, heavy, and will structured album, Elementary is going to be well worth your time. The End has a strong future ahead of them.