END as a group have been around a few years now and have been removed from that initial splash of excitement that came simply from the members which made up the group. Now onto their second album and multiple tours deep, the supergroup lead by Counterparts’ Brendan Murphy and producer/Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney on guitar remain a powerful force in metalcore. While they’ve lost former The Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Rymer since last year’s split with Cult Leader, they’ve not lost a jot of vitriol from their offering. The Sin of Human Frailty is a sophomore offering showing a band that have grown in confidence and chemistry pushing themselves to their limit to mostly vibrant results.From the opener “A Predator Yourself”, END sound like the ones stalking their prey as they immediately go for the jugular with Murphy’s throat shedding atop their mathy, Converge inspired riffage leaving little space for thought. “Gaping Wounds Of Earth” is similarly breakneck in its approach, offering more of a hardcore style complete with breakdowns, akin to what we know of their label Closed Casket Activities. This mix of mathcore and metallic hardcore typifies much of the album.
There are traces from bands of all eras mixed in, which is exactly what we’d expect from the group. While Murphy and Putney give us a distinctly different flavour than their most famous bands, with former Shai Hulud guitarist Greg Thomas and former Reign Supreme bassist Jay Pepito mixed in the lineup there is a melting point of hardcore sounds and experiences to build on. These are also groups that are known for experimenting and pushing their boundaries, even while staying within their genre. Electronics tinged single “Thaw” is a great example, mixing heavy synths and industrial techno beats into their arsenal for a bombastic point of difference in their album, while not sounding out of place. It retains the aggression but also builds with atmosphere from the first chorus, akin to what former split mates Cult Leader have made one of their calling cards over their career. The single also features the vocal talents of Debbie Gough of UK metal starlets Heriot, lending a rousing counterpoint to Murphy that elevates it another step.
The momentum continues into the album’s second half broadly offering more of the same. Truthfully, despite the quality of the production and musicianship, there is a bit of a lull in terms of the listening experience in the middle section. There are moments mixed in such as the blackened outro of “Worthless is the Lamb” that maintain excitement but as a whole The Sin of Human Frailty loses me a little bit until the restraint of “Hollow Urn” takes over.From here on to the end of the album it’s a non-stop train of excitement. The pounding drums from newest member Matt Guglielmo take over with another hint of electronics as a tense guitar completes and enthralling atmosphere. “Infest” is a brutal blast of a song that pounces at the throat when the listener might expect a slower end to the album. Sonically, the album sounds dense, aggressive and intense throughout, ramping up to the end. The album is produced and engineered by Putney, who at this point has one of the most formidable discographies in heavy music, END have used what’s at their disposal much to their benefit.
It all culminates in the almost 5 minute closer “Leper”, the most varied individual song on the album. It has the most technical musicianship, particularly guitar wise with a tapped melody leading the way. The drums pound as usual but with a technicality even above much of the rest of the album. It goes back and forth from point to point without hesitation and is reminiscent of the more experimental days of Converge as they go in and out of hardcore and soundscape at will. It reaches it’s bridge with an almost alarm siren sounding over a tense rhythmic pulse, leading into a final cathartic breakdown. Murphy’s final release of anger for the album comes alongside a final hammer blow from the band.Across The Sin of Human Frailty, END have found a sweet spot of experimentation and sticking to what they do best. While harnessing their strengths and treading new ground, they’ve made an album that is both familiar and intriguing. It wears their influences on its sleeve and can be heard as the sum of its parts but never the less feels fresh from a set of musicians who could rest on the laurels at this point in their careers.