Embrace The End - Counting Hallways To The Left (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Embrace The End

Counting Hallways To The Left (2005)


You know what...metalcore just may have a few tricks left in the bag after all. Sure, the genre isn't liable to become a hotbed of artistic creativity and expression, and I don't think any bands will be incorporating banjo breakdowns or flute solos any time soon, but a few bands still exist that can make some solid records in the genre. This is proven by Embrace The End's Abacus debut, Counting Hallways To The Left, which while not inventive in the slightest, impresses with a solid songwriting craft and unrelenting intensity.

Sounding like a much less chaotic version of label mates Ion Dissonance, the band obviously has a sound musical head on their collective shoulders. The dual-vocal attack works well for the six-piece, effortlessly moving between mid-range screams, frenetic shrieks, and low, guttural growling. The song structures, while technically sound, offer little reprieve from the genre standard blast beats and breakdowns, but even that seems to be executed with a little more flare, a little more gusto than bands playing similar music. The band wastes little time getting straight into their groove, as "Carbombs And Conversations" speeds out of the gate with reckless abandon, and never gives time to look back, and "Memento Mori" carries an excellent groove amidst the range of screams and speedy metal riffing to keep fans of hardcore and metal alike happy. It's even got some solid, melodic guitar undercurrents that sound great underneath the harsh layer of screamed vocals and relentless drum fills. Fluid as all of these songs are, they do on occasion fall into a lot of the same metalcore ruts, with too many breakdowns and overuse of the double bass drumming leading the offenses. I'll be damned though if Embrace The End doesn't finish off the album with their two strongest tracks. The speedy and chaotic "After Me The Floods" demolishes everything in its path with untouched ferocity and great musicianship, while the closer "The Father's Right Hand" is heavy and pummeling, while retaining the same cohesion established up to this point.

At its core, sure, it's still the same music that a myriad of other bands are putting out, but Embrace The End reside a cut above the rest. Their penchant for lightning quick, technical guitar work and a wide range of vocal styles will do well for them in future endeavors. If they can say goodbye to a lot of the things that make the genre cliché, this will absolutely be a band to look out for in the very near future.