In the past decade, the rise of one-man metal “bands” has definitely seen an alarming rise, mostly due to the advancements in home studio technology and its increasing affordability. While there has clearly been an ample amount of oversaturation in many of the genre’s newer styles and bad production habits have become pretty prevalent, we also wouldn’t have amazing groups like Periphery, Chimp Spanner or Cloudkicker if it wasn’t for such gear. The problem with most bedroom projects is that they often seem too spontaneous and too desperate to push out new material without finding the ideal riff, ideal mix, or ideal hook. That’s where Andrew Reynolds and his project Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors come in. Sure, he may have gotten a lot of his recognition from consistently putting out the only djent covers of pop songs on YouTube that have mattered or ever will matter, but …Comes To An End is easily his most professional and impressive work to date.
At a daunting 63 minutes in length, …Comes to an End is packed to the brim with dazzling guitar leads, shimmering cleans and a really understated sense of technicality. There’s no doubt that some sections in tracks like “Mirage” and “Relapse” are incredibly difficult to play, yet they never cause ear fatigue or become disorienting. Any time things may start to seem like they’re teetering on the edge of insanity, the listener is always pulled back in with a head-bobbing drum pattern, a killer vocal pattern or a really strong and melodic guitar solo. The best example of this is found in “Epitaph,” which could very well be the best thing Reynolds has been a part of. The song goes through more genre shifts than any other track in the lot, but never feels forced and boasts the album’s best chorus (which thankfully repeats often by the end). Seriously, eat your heart out, Tesseract. Sometimes a lot of bands in the prog-metal genre seem to forget that music is supposed to be fun, which is luckily something …Comes To An End has in droves.
Handling literally every single instrument and mixing duty in the album’s 13 tracks is no easy feat for any musician, but …Comes to an End is simply one of the fullest and most well-rounded production jobs you’ll probably hear in metal all year long. Whether the album is delivering its trademark groove riffs (with the biggest pick-bass tone caught on tape), delving into mellow/post-rock or bordering on death metal, practically every choice of tone is spot-on. There’s still plenty of room for dynamic shifts within the songs and things rarely feel overwhelming or brickwalled; something that has come to plague many fellow 8-stringers out there. The album probably could have benefitted from the use of live drums, but this still sounds better than a lot of newer bands that end up quantizing and dehumanizing everything anyways.
While Drewsif’s guitar playing may be what first got him noticed in the first place, his vocal abilities are by far his strongest card to play in 2015. Sure, there’s more than enough moments of choppy, guttural brutality in the album’s one-two punch openers “Nightfall” and “Collapse,” but once the album really settles in things become quickly apparent that …Comes To An End’s best moments are almost always anchored by Reynold’s awe-inspired clean vocals, which sound far more compelling, believable and passionate than damn near anyone else in djent right now. If you’re not convinced of this after listening to bangers like “Seldom,” “Sisyphus,” and “Epitaph,” you simply weren’t listening hard enough. The guest appearance by Nikki Simmons (who formerly toured with DSME) in “Mirage” is also incredible and begs the question: why wasn’t she included more?
At the end of the day, this album isn’t exactly pushing the metal genre into any unexplored territory, but it’s still one of the most consistent pieces of groove-heavy music to drop in a while. And with any luck, …Comes To An End will also be viewed as the benchmark of bedroom bands worldwide and will be looked at as the best template for how to make compelling and high-quality music without the need of outside assistance. Here’s hoping that the album’s title isn’t any indication of the project’s demise. Now let’s get this guy another live band and get him back out on the road!
Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors – …Comes To An End gets…