Too far down the rabbit hole
Endtime’s debut album impending doom goes so far down the rabbit hole that it goes completely past wonderland and plods towards the center of the Earth’s core. With only 5 tracks, this album is the complete doom metal package, containing horror, fire, brimstone and the works. It’s almost necessary to put a warning label on it, something like “This album may cause severe breathing difficulties and heart palpitations”, because it is so intense and can only be recommended for serious metal listeners. Everyone else, beware of taking part in a journey from which there can be no return.
The journey through impending doom begins with a framed quote in the retro style of a 1950s horror TV show, “With this knife may I draw blood, which is my life” in the song “Harbinger of Disease”. Created with a cymbal-sparse backbeat and super-spaced guitar chords that wait until the very end of each quarter note to kick in, the tempo drags on so slowly it feels like the song’s pulse is on. the point of giving up and going into light. The vocals have an overproduced faux-retro consistency where it seems like they were aiming to emulate the greats of metal’s past, but instead landed in the realm of cluttered, reverb-heavy screams. Not that it’s bad, it just doesn’t feel authentic. Halfway through, a rolling drum fills in the toms and a soft yet groovy baseline helps fill in the empty space. An abrupt stopping point then returns the song to the sparse surroundings of its opening.
“Cities On Fire With The Burning Flesh Of Men” is the longest track on the album with a title taken from the Bob Dylan song “Death Is Not the End”. The only way this track could invoke a more robust reaction is if it came with a smell-o-vision. The song’s bridge incorporates a moment of clear, singular pinches of a sitar. While it doesn’t flow with the rest of the track, it does a great job of bringing the listener’s attention back should they ever stray too far down their own path of mental instability. Most songs end with what music theorists call a “full cadence.” Without going too deep into the tedious world of Western music theory, it’s essentially a landing space where a song feels complete, where our brain instinctively realizes the song has come to a natural end point. “Cities On Fire With The Burning Flesh Of Men” doesn’t have that. It holds the listener in purgatory, creating a sense of nail-biting anxiety as it leads into the next song.
This album is the musical representation of the “This Is Fine” meme where the delirious dog sits at a table while his surroundings are engulfed in flames. He’s not quite dead, but everything points to it happening as the world crumbles around him. Everything in this album plays into the “Imminent” part of the title. From the drawling tempos to the overproduced vocals, and then to the little snippets of random musical sound that’s subtly injected into each track, everything feels carefully crafted and it successfully holds a captive in the moment. The sheer force of this album puts unnecessary stress on the body. So if dead inside is where the spirit is right now, impending doom can complete this trip. Otherwise, run away. Far far away.