The word “savage” gets thrown around in conversations about extreme music a lot. Honestly, too much. Way too much. So much in fact that the word itself has begun to lose any and all meaning. You know the argument: If everything is savage, nothing is. Because pulling out the thesaurus to expand the vernacular is a tedious exercise, we tend to overuse the words we know. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else. But sometimes a body of work is so outright aggressive that “savage” is the only word that will do, synonyms be damned. End’s debut EP From the Unforgiving Arms of God is one of these releases. And yes, it is absolutely savage.
For context: End is a supergroup consisting of Counterparts’ Brendan Murphy on vocals, Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney and Misery Signals’ Greg Thomas on guitar duty, Jay Pepito of Reign Supreme handling bass, and ex-Structures member Andrew McEnany on drums. This veritable who’s-who of the hardcore/metalcore/deathcore scenes should pretty obviously raise some eyebrows. But collectives like this are only as good as the music they write together, and holy lord almighty do these guys write some utterly ballistic tunes. This music is straight up lethal in practically every way, and thankfully is not built exclusively for fans of the above bands. This is a group that can and should stand on its own as the creators of a ferocious and distinctly nasty mixtures of some of metal’s most destructive sounds.
This masterful blend of styles is immediately apparent on EP opener “Chewing Glass”, which is about as sonically pleasant as it sounds (and I say that in the best possible light). There is a level of abject ferocity to this track that sets the tone for the remainder of the EP impeccably well. The guitars, heavy as all hell, chug and blaze through two minutes of audio fisticuffs, as McEnany pounds his kit with the intensity of a man possessed. While Putney and Thomas’ guitar work here and throughout this batch of tracks is worthy of special mention, the most mesmerizing and impressive contribution belongs to Brendan Murphy, whose vocals reach a power level over 9000 within the first few seconds of this opening track and persist until its final blast has subsided in your pulsing, bruised brain. It’s a barn-burner of an opener that puts the band’s collective talents on full display.
While there are definitive strands of deathcore and metalcore in the midst of this predominantly hardcore stew, the viciousness of these tracks brings to mind the intensity of bands like Cult Leader or Helpless. “Usurper” rages and blasts its way into your ears with all the momentum of a runaway subway car, smashing directly into “Love Let Me Die”, which does nothing to slow down the proceedings. Album centerpiece and title-track “From the Unforgiving Arms of God” builds upon the band’s most ferocious elements with a more methodical approach, allowing the band more time and space to exercise their skills. Fast-and-blast isn’t the only way these fellows can play, and there is enough variety here to hint at where the band could potentially take this sound in the future. Another example of this is closing track “Survived by Nothing”, which brings the whole operation home with an earth-shattering first half that eventually dissolves into some sparse, atmospheric guitar work, only to close with a monolithic finale that is as fitting an end to such a record as I could imagine.
I’ll put it simply: From the Unforgiving Arms of God is some of the most fantastically abrasive music I have heard in 2017. End have here concocted an EP of such primal aggression that it’s nearly impossible to resist being swept up in a veritable sea of rage. This is a sterling example of what happens when musicians united in common purpose push their talents to new extremes, and we the listeners end up the happy recipients. Grab your headphones and prepare for your blood to boil in your veins, because End have brought back the true meaning of unadulterated savagery.