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End, The: Elementary

Opinions on the latest release from Canada's The End are all over the map, as longtime followers are groaning at the lack of ferocity on their latest Elementary, while new listers are embracing their hypnotic, progressive, and still metallic sound that recalls such bands as Tool, Neurosis, Mastodon, and the Mars Volta. Early on in their career this band had a hard time escaping the shadow of The Dillinger Escape Plan...well, with Elementary I think they have finally done just that.

This is stunning stuff from start to finish, moody, emotional, certainly progressive and at times quite heavy. The opening "Dangerous" is a great metal tune with plenty of angst and the occasional technical riff, while the band goes right into their prog-rock playbook on the atmospheric "The Never Ever Aftermath", a real dreamy & moody number that recalls Tool and Mars Volta at their most adventurous. With "Animals", the band unleashes a little of their math-rock and hardcore fury, as this one starts with some intricate & pummeling riffs, then slowly starts to morph into a raging behemoth with plenty of pent up aggression that quickly boils over. "The Moth and I" once again brings to mind Mars Volta, as well as the intoxicating post-rock of ISIS, with plenty of lilting guitar washes and the tortured vocals of Aaron Wolff, who really has a tremendous clean vocal delivery, which he showcases for much of this album. The rhythmically busy "Throwing Stones" is a chunky hard rocker, similar to Tool's earlier material, which segues into the screaming metalcore scorcher that is "My Abyss". Fans of more technical arrangements along the lines of Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan will dig the intricate sounds of "Awake?", which sees Steve Watson and Andrew Hercules weaving plenty of winding lead lines and bone crunching riffs along side the crushing rhythms of bassist Sean Dooley and drummer Anthony Salajko, while Wolff alternates between clean and screaming vocals. The last three tracks on the CD sees the band going off into full-blown progressive rock territory, kicking off with the creepy guitar/keyboard effects laden instrumental "A Fell Wind", a truly ominous piece that will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention. This then quickly moves into the Meshuggah meets Dream Theater prog-metal mania that is "In Distress", a song featuring plenty of start/stop polyrhythms and staccato riffing to go along with some chilling atmospheric moments that eventually winds up into experimetal Tool-like territory. The closing 9-minute "And Always..." is a dreary slice of melancholy with lush acoustic guitars, layers of emotional vocals, a scorching electric guitar solo, and moody sound effects. It ends this rather eclectic and varied CD on a somber note.

Many will no doubt be rather confused with the drastic changes that The End have implemented into their music here, but in all reality it was probably a good time to add some new elements into their sound and go off in a few different directions. Elementary succeeds on many levels, offering up plenty of varied material that will appeal to those into such genres as extreme metal, prog, post-rock, and ambient. While it's not as technical as their more "math-rock" sounding earlier release, Elementary should appeal to a wider audience and bring a whole new host of listeners into the world of The End. Let's see what happens.

Track Listing
1. Dangerous
2. The Never Ever Aftermath
3. Animals
4. The Moth and I
5. Throwing Stones
6. My Abyss
7. Awake?
8. A Fell Wind
9. In Distress
10. And Always...

Added: March 17th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: The End Website
Hits: 2174
Language: english

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