Endzeit is a black metal band hailing from Finland. My knowledge of Finnish black metal (or really black metal as a whole) is certainly lacking, but it doesn’t take a connoisseur of the style to know that Endzeit is pretty good at what they do. “Years of Hunger” is the band’s debut EP, and after opening with a somewhat militaristic drum beat intro, it kicks off into relentless black metal. From start to finish, it is clear that Endzeit is quite familiar with what makes for a great black metal release. They use many of the genre’s trademark elements that are good, while discarding those that can ruin black metal. To start with, the production is perfect. It doesn’t sound muffled, unintelligible, or lacking anywhere. On the other hand, it also isn’t clean. The most important element here is the clarity of the bass drum, which is particularly prominent as the guitars play higher-pitched melodies and riffs. Irrespective of whether there are blast beats or not, it feels like there is always a steady stream of double bass, and this is something that really adds to “Years of Hunger”. It allows the band to go in a more atmospheric band, and while one would certainly not accuse Endzeit of sounding like Burzum or Drudkh, they are nonetheless quite successful in conjuring a foreboding feeling within their music.
Perhaps a better comparison for Endzeit would be to the Swedish black metal scene, where melody was king. If you take the basic elements of Dissection and make it a bit rougher around the edges, with an increased emphasis on brutality and blast beats, the result would be Endzeit. Of course, the songwriting isn’t quite as stellar as Dissection’s, but it is nonetheless impressive. Of the four tracks, three of them primarily deal in speed and aggression, with “Life?” being the outlier as it is more melodic (don’t let the blasting intro fool you; the track has plenty of moments that take a different path). Nonetheless, each song feels quite progressive, as the band is able to mix things up between the intense moments. In fact, this is one thing that is fantastic about “Years of Hunger”. Endzeit is not content with playing the same riff 32 times before switching to the next riff; there is a lot of movement and variety on this EP, and I have no doubt that if it were a full-length, it would remain captivating throughout.
The performances on “Years of Hunger” go above and beyond what one might expect from black metal. Moreso than any other style of metal, black metal musicians span the range from absolutely awful, to mind-blowingly good. Endzeit is definitely closer to the latter end of the spectrum. The vocals are raspy, though they don’t take a croaking approach. The drumming is the highlight, as it is completely bombastic, and makes full use of everything on the kit. The guitars, while not particularly technical, are still quite fast and offer riffs that are relatively unique in nature despite consisting of mostly tremolo-picking. Surprisingly the bass is audible, though it shines the most in the aforementioned “Life?” where the rest of the band backs off and gives their bassist room to breathe.
In one fell swoop, Endzeit has managed to surpass the vast majority of black metal for me. “Years of Hunger” is a stellar example of the enormous potential of this style of music. While there is always room for improvement, this EP is a fantastic start. If you are serious about black metal, this is a must-hear release!
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4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott