END - Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face (Cover Artwork)


Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face (2020)

Closed Casket Activities

I didn’t know about END until recently. I gather I’m not the only person that is true of, but it seems mad to me at this point. In short, END are a hardcore supergroup, made up of members of Counterparts, Misery Signals, Reign Supreme, Shai Hulud and Fit For An Autopsy. Without going into too much detail, there is a lot of good, heavy music made by these guys. Emotional hardcore to Deathcore, but almost always with an undeniable degree of quality. So when all of these guys get together, then is the result going to be muddled? Too many cooks and all that? It would seem not.

This is what supergroups should be. People taking a little time off from their day jobs to cut loose, but not dropping their creativity or focus on quality one iota. In fact, the old adage that supergroups rarely match up to the sum of their parts seems to be one that is less true with every passing year. And it’s very much untrue in the case of END. As a fan of both hardcore and more metallic genres, Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face was never going to be a difficult sell for me, but with my objective journo hat on, I think this is a collection of some of the most well-crafted, excoriatingly heavy hardcore I’ve heard in a long time, frankly. Not only is it meticulously constructed and bludgeoningly heavy, but there are timing and tempo shifts, the production is utterly immaculate (stand up Will Putney once again – who also is on guitar duties, incidentally) and there is enough experimentation here that although there are lumbering, caveman hardcore riffs in abundance, it feels alive, unique and unpredictable throughout. So much so that at points, this borders on grindcore. When it goes, it really goes.

The reference I made above to the metallic end of the spectrum bears revisiting. I wouldn’t say that there is much sonically ‘metal’ about the band’s sound in the traditional sense, but unlike a lot of hardcore bands, there isn’t the rallying cry feel to it, either. You can’t necessarily imagine people feeling united in positivity and defiance when the breakdowns come, for example. The overall feel of the record is one of malice and pain. The album title itself is indicative of this and the although the punch of the band’s sound is primarily hardcore, there is a jagged, buzzsaw edge to the guitar tone which, along with the base atmosphere will certainly appeal to the metalheads amongst us. Also, with song titles like “Hesitation Wounds”, “Every Empty Vein” and the superb “Pariah”, then you’re quite clearly in darker territory; with Brendan Murphy’s anguished screams and yelps serving as the perfect accompaniment to the unsettling bedrock of END’s sound. Basically, as a package, it works unbelievably well. Arguably even more unbelievable when you consider this is a side-project of sorts.

This is 11 songs and 33 minutes of savagery, but savagery with dexterity and composure in its wildly-pumping heart. Good hardcore albums are something I live with day-to-day. Great hardcore albums are rarer. Great hardcore albums from supergroups are in the ‘hens teeth’ category when it comes to rarity. And make no mistake, this is exactly that. END have come from out of left field and released what is, without question, one of the hardcore records of the year. And the more I listen to it, the more I think you could probably remove the word ‘hardcore’ from that last sentence.