Too far down the rabbit hole
Endtime’s debut album Impending Doom goes so far down the rabbit hole that it completely passes Wonderland and ploddingly makes its way smack dab to 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. There’s almost a need to put a warning label on it, something along the lines of “This album may cause struggled breathing and severe heart palpitations,” because it’s that intense, and could be recommended for serious metal listeners only. Everyone else, beware of taking part in a journey in which there be may no return.
The journey through Impending Doom begins with a quote framed within the retro style of a 1950’s horror tv show, “With this knife, do I draw out the blood, which is my life” in the song “Harbinger of Disease.” Created with a sparse ride cymbal backbeat and super spaced-out guitar chords that wait to the very end of each quarter note to make an appearance, the tempo drags so slow that it feels like the song’s pulse is about to give up and step into the light. The vocals have an overproduced faux-retro consistency where it seems they were aiming to mimic the greats of metal past, but instead landed in the realm of congested, reverb-heavy yelling. Not that it’s bad, it just doesn’t seem authentic. At the halfway point, a rolling drum fills from the toms and a soft but groovy baseline helps pad the empty space. A harsh stopping point then returns the song to the sparse environment of its opening.
“Cities On Fire With The Burning Flesh Of Men” is the longest track on the album with a title pulled 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 smell-o-vision. The bridge of the song incorporates a moment of clear, singular plucks from a sitar. While this doesn’t flow with the rest of the track, it does a great job of bringing the listener’s focus back if it happened to spiral too far away on its own path of mental instability. Most songs end in what music theorists call a “complete cadence.” Without getting too deep into the tedious world of western music theory, this is essentially a landing space where a song feels complete, where our brains instinctively realize that the song has come to a natural ending point. “Cities On Fire With The Burning Flesh Of Men” doesn’t have that. It holds the listener in purgatory, creating a feeling of nail-biting anxiety as it leads into the next song.
This album is the musical depiction of the “This Is Fine” meme where the delusional dog is sitting at a table while his surroundings are engulfed in flames. He’s not quite dead, but there is every indication that it’s coming as the world crumbles around him. Everything about this album plays into the “Impending” portion of the title. From the dragging tempos to the overproduced vocals and then to the little tidbits of random musical sounds that are subtly injected within each track, everything seems carefully crafted and it successfully holds one captive in the moment. The sheer force of this album puts unnecessary stress on the body. So, if dead inside is where one’s spirit currently lies, Impending Doom may complement that journey. If not, run away. Far, far away.