Sunday 20 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: End Christian – "Energy & Strength"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/08/2017
Label: Translation Loss Records

“Energy & Strength” CD//DD track listing

1. Froze Red
2. Traverse
3. Preacher
4. Delivered in Shame
5. Ballinger
6. 8 Hour Job
7. Quiet Nights
8. A Relaxing Time
9. Ore Da Barbarian
10. Oscillate Forms
11. Call About Trix

The Review

 “This is a message of energy and strength!”  Among the wispy, heavily processed, often indiscernible vocals and lyrics of End Christian’s full-length debut, this mantra serves as a thesis statement for a collective that continuously shifts between genres and emotions.  Comprised of members of Fad Nauseam (Dreadful), Hex Inverter (McKenna), Starkweather (Rosa), and Brutal Truth (Hoak), End Christian eschews the “heaviest lineup/heaviest sound” posturing that damns most supergroups.  Instead, “Energy & Strength” embraces their retro pop, shoegaze, and techno obsessions – which have recently garnered crossover success for artists like Perturbator, Gost, and Youth Code within the heavy music scenes.  Despite these analogies, however, End Christian’s debut doesn’t coast on nostalgia, but manages to be a rewarding, challenging work of experimental music.

Opener “Froze Red” is a blissed out slice of dream pop that would fit alongside any entry into the classic 4AD catalogue – whispery goth vocals, swelling synth chords, just the right amount of rhythm to slow dance with your pale companion or all by yourself.  If they continued in this vein, “Energy & Strength” would be a serviceable foray into pop for at least an EP.  But instead “Traverse” turns on the darkness, locking around a doom and gloom bass line that recalls NIN’s “Ghost” recordings.  “Preacher” goes full ambient mode, while “Delivered in Shame” is a buzzing piece of electronic hardcore and retro drumpad beats, while a Vocoder makes the whole thing twist into a track like Giorgio Moroder on downers.

By the end of the record, I was mostly recalling seminal compilations like “No New York,” that captured a brief era in the morphing post-punk and art rock scenes of the late 70s using just four artists – disparate but collaborative, bound by aesthetic similarities but not yet distilled into any formula for success.  This borderless experimentation can be taxing, as the relentlessly loose “Quiet Nights” verges on excess, while the frenetic avant jazz weirdness of “A Relaxing Time” is as “no wave” as it gets.    And yet there is undeniable positivity that flows through the record, balancing the darkness creeping at the edges.  The Vangelis-meets-dub beauty of “Oscillate Forms”; the slightly askew string lines of Ballinger; the repeated reminders that “This is a message of energy and strength!” – are just a few of the beautiful moments that propel End Christian’s debut through any rough spots.  I, for one, hope they continue to challenge, experiment, and confound expectations.

“Energy & Strength” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook