If you want me to listen to a band, just say they’re from Denver or Colorado in general. They actually have to be from here, though, don’t lie. Call it a bias, but there’s something cool with discovering music made where you’re from, like how some people get borderline aroused when they find a food brand that’s made locally in the big supermarkets (shout out noosa yoghurt!). Endless, Nameless are the most recent Denver find for me, and I’m very glad I had the opportunity.
They’re immediately hard to define, encompassing a number of styles and genres that, for me personally, run the gamut of enjoyability and familiarity, yet when it’s all melded together, I feel at home. Their math rock side is energetic and flashy without losing the greater emotional punch. That punch is further provided by some post-hardcore proclivities with ethereal singing and shattered screams alike. Those screams also open up some profoundly wild black metalish moments where things go off the rails ever so slightly for the optimal catharsis of blast beats and poison-dipped guitars. There’s more at play too, just in smaller helpings.
Living Without doesn’t make you forfeit much of your tastes if you’re a well-rounded music enjoyer like I am. This is its greatest strength. Endless, Nameless seemed to have gone to great lengths to ensure a cohesive project came out on the other end of their emotionally whiplashing expressions. “A World So Kind” for instance is a warm nuzzle of an opening track with finger-twisting riffs that would be a shoo-in for a thrash album had the distortion been turned up. This is a common theme through the album with some sweet variation I’ll get into later.
Then Elle Reynolds’ vocals hit. They have such a nice, gentle lilt to their tone, it’s magnificently welcoming not unlike that of Cedric Bixler-Zavala or Ashe O’Hara (this is one of the highest compliments I can personally pay to a vocalist). But they’re also capable of engaging the hell out of their throat for shrill shrieks that pierce through just about anything else going on for intense moments. Here, they’re closer to Johnny Whitney (coincidentally, the day I’m writing this is the 20th anniversary of The Blood Brothers‘ wrecking ball album …Burn, Piano Island, Burn).
You get a great mix of what they are capable of everywhere, but “Remembrance” stands out. It’s an ominous track about the conflicting feelings one may get when they hear someone who was viciously cruel to them dies. It’s a greatly personal track for Reynolds, being about someone who abused them and then got into a fatal car crash. ‘Finally,’ you may think, ‘they’re gone and can do no one any harm,’ something that can conflict with the side of you that values life under pretty much any other circumstance. The lyrics are profound in how they assert that this emotional reaction is akin to turning someone into a killer.
‘August 24th, 2017
I saw your name in a headline
150 miles an hour down the wrong side of the road
And god only knows that I felt no remorse
For the sigh of relief that escaped my lips
The day I learned you died I felt a little warmth inside
You turned me into a killer‘
It’s something I relate to in my own way (some people truly are better off dead for the greater good) and Endless, Nameless capture the cyclone of emotions so well with dissonance and disarray while still retaining the coherence and reflection. It’s also a very quick track at 2:49, seemingly mimicking the speed at which these disparate thoughts and reactions spin in our heads like a lightspeed merry-go-round that tosses its horse mounts from the carousel with abandon.
“Propaniac” is a punky delight. I believe we have guitarist Ricardo Bonilla contributing some substantial, groggy vocals to the mix along with Reynolds (who is also a guitarist, just to be clear). The track has a wonderful movement to it, packing away the more delicate and entrancing math rock core their other songs have in favor of more power and speed. The lyrics deal with emotional disconnects and dubious intent, referencing what could be anything from a personal relationship to a those in power claiming to be looking out for the ‘little guy’:
‘You waste your time away in bed
I spend my nights stuck inside my head
You say you wear your heart right out on your sleeve
And that you have my best interest at heart which I do not believe‘
It’s also very much worth noting that many aspects of this album are a reflection of Reynolds’ existence and experience as a trans person. In their words:
‘I cover a mix of personal and political topics on the album, a lot of the time touching on both and on how systemic violence can lead to interpersonal conflict and vice versa. Being a trans person, it feels like my personal identity is violently and forcibly made political, so a lot of the album touches on that and intentionally blends those two categories.‘
“Plea Market” is diverse, elevating itself to proggy highs before plummeting to a tumultuous, craggy blast of metal and traveling to realms in between. It’s one of the longest songs on the album and uses its time very effectively. I especially love the build-up of the intro which has a neat springy feel; perfect for the warming weather here in the Denver Metro area. “A Gradual Unwinding” plays with some light American Football comparisons with how it uses emo-style riffing, lovely vocals, and an overall structure that’s dense without impeding itself or you as a listener. The drums are especially killer here – very active with touches of progressive playfulness.
The best part is that it all feels so sincere, so genuine. I don’t get the sense that Endless, Nameless set out to be different for different’s sake or see how many genres they can toy with in their music because it sounded fun (it does sound fun, but still). It all feels like this is where their hearts lie, along precipices of expression where instead of falling off the edge with the next step, they simply bend physics to walk down along the sheer cliff wall calm, cool, and collected as if it were a cobblestone path through a lush, green park. And even with this artistic ease, there’s a very punctual, urgent pain reverberating through Living Without, like these things had to be talked about right now lest we risk a personal apocalypse.
I am so, so proud of what artists from Denver and beyond in Colorado are doing. Bias aside, I believe this is one of the best places for underground music and it’s my hope that they don’t stay very underground for much longer. This is triply true for someone like Endless, Nameless who are so stylistically confident and already executing on a high level for a debut album (oh yeah, I didn’t mention that yet – Living Without is their first LP). Despite its darker thematic tendencies, I feel a joyous energy radiating from their music and it’s something I wanna bathe in. Do yourself a favor and listen.
Trans rights are human rights. Kill the transphobe inside your head. Don’t support output from known transphobes who do nothing but make the lives of your friends and family worse. Fight back against the baseless, bigoted anti-trans narrative that’s actively being platformed in America and elsewhere. Develop community defense techniques and plans. The first pride march was a riot, started by a Black trans woman. Rise above the hate, because that’s all it is.
Band photo by Aimes Lily