Through the Mirror by EndonRelease date: June 2, 2017
Label: Hydra Head
Somewhere between noise and extreme metal lives Japan’s Endon. I can’t think of too many acts that are as abrasive or aggressive out there. Full of Hell and Converge come to mind, but both those bands are firmly rooted in metal and that is not the case with Endon. They are literally rooted in some strange combination of noise, music from spaghetti western movies and the echoes of ritual murder. That may sound like a terrible combination, but somehow it works – and really well. As much as they are a suitcase of insanity, their album, Through the Mirror is surprisingly likeable and kind of fun. It’s probably the most interesting metal album to be released in 2017 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up on a lot of top 10 lists at the end of the year.
The reason the album is important is that it obliterates convention. Two members of the five piece dedicate themselves solely to generating noise though a desk mounted contraptions of wires and cables. Taichi Nagura’s vocals are unlike any I’ve heard before. He has an ability to sound like five different people all at the same time. His ability to shift from brutally punishing death metal style gutter barking to black metal shrillness and wild screams is uncanny. This is all tied together with superb drumming and a metallic twangy guitar sound that is reminiscent of rockabilly and Chicago punk. The song structures are also rooted in experimental noise and lack any tie to pop style verse chorus verse tradition, and are prone to extreme diatribes that rollercoaster the listener into black corners of lunacy. It’s quite a ride.
The album’s most accessible song is probably ‘Your Ghost is Dead’, for which the band created a video, and is probably the song that most listeners will hear as an introduction to the band. However, the album offers many great moments, even if it is at times hard to tell in which song they occur since most of the songs have several movements. There are numerous sustained peaks of rage filled insanity, a good example of which takes place in a short one minute song called ‘Pensuml. But there is also a lot of experimentation that will likely influence musicians to come. In particular, the band has a way of layering industrial noises with traditional instruments and vocals into swirling hurricanes of noise that take several listens to disseminate. But unsatisfied with just one trick, the songs also vary wildly in length, tempo, and evolution. The most experimental is probably the opener, ‘Nerve Rain’, a song that is essentially one layered chord of noise played for five minutes broken apart by gaps of silence that seem to adhere to no time signature.
Overall, while this band may not be for everyone – to be sure, there are parts that are just hard to listen to – the detail and innovation here is impressive and worth a careful listen.