|Musical Style: Modern Hard Rock||Produced By: Erik Tordsson|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website: End Of September|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 36:59|
Today, the hard music scene is made up of more and more bands that are not afraid to crossover the old and new, and for good reason: Those that take a framework of modern metal and hard rock and fuse it with old school sensibilities are proving to be a refreshing change of pace.
Växjö, Sweden based End Of September is one such act. The group, which emerged in 2009 when a demo put together by founding member guitarist Erik Tordsson led to a deal with Ulterium Records, plants its feel firmly in current musical trends while mirroring the leanings of the past. This is best exemplified in the spring of 2012 End Of September self-titled Ulterium debut, which stays true to both the latter (in terms of its emphasis on metal and hard rock guitars and mostly clean female vocals) and the former (little in the way of soloing is offered while the occasional scream or extreme growl is mixed in).
But there is more to End Of September than just “modern hard rock” in that much of the groups material trends towards the dark, moody and mid-paced almost to the point of being Gothic. Consider “Isolated”, “A Place To Go” and “Left In This World”, a trio of heavy hitters that give rise to some somber flavorings, in addition to “Fallen” and “Waiting For The Rain”, two of the groups more melancholy and disconsolate tracks.
Some symphonic underpinnings make their presence felt as well. “Exile” and “Silence” highlight this with their forward keyboard focus while still playing up the trademark End Of September crunch and focus on the low-key.
The group can also deliver some livelier moments. “Inner Voice” is one of the more upbeat tracks here, particularly when descending into its instrumental moments, while “Autumn Breaks” also features the occasional time signature towards a more spirited direction.
The impression left with repeated play is that End Of September proves a consistent listen but the group could have stretched a bit at the same time. There is, for instance, a “same-like” feel to much of the material here, which while in the good to very good range never quite touches upon greatness. My thought is that including a couple of faster songs, a ballad or track in the seven to eight minute range would have gone a long ways to the more varied and all around accessible work.
One of the stand out qualities of End Of September are the female vocals of Elin Redin. Style wise, she sings with power and confidence in falling between Johanna (HB), who brings the more high end and operatic presence, and Oyla Meek (Voice Of Glass), highlighting the darker and lower register touch.
Nothing to complain about musicianship wise in that all End Of September members are solid performers. Johan Nöjd (bass) and Johan Svenson (drums) round out the formidable rhythm section while Erik Tordsson handles all guitar duties. Unfortunately, his work is limited to rhythm guitar in that End Of September is deficient in the soloing department. Perhaps some well timed lead guitar work would have gone a long way towards contributing to that previously referenced “more varied and all around accessible work”.
Production is sterling (I continue to be impressed with the production of bands coming out of Europe) and packaging spot on (the forlorn feel to the artwork fits the music at hand to perfection).
Cannot testify as to the beliefs of End Of September, but the group does feature some subtle spiritual lyrics throughout, as found on “Exile” and “Waiting For The Rain”. Please see the track by track for more details.
There are two ways to sum things up (and I feel both apply): 1) End Of September can best be described as consistently good as opposed to consistently great. 2) Greatness in time will manifest itself in that the group displays great potential. Hence, looking forward to what End Of September produces in the future.
Track By Track
Things get underway to “Isolated”, a resonant cruncher driven by an even blend of forthright guitars (for its emotionally charged chorus) and airy keyboards (upholding more tranquil verses). Piano makes a brief appearance for the songs instrumental moments. Lyric snippet:
Tell me why did you say you believed me
Then left me alone?
Its’ just begun bit by bit
You’re taking a hold of me
I hear I hear you whispering lies
Into my mind
I’m so lost you’re my enemy
But still you’re a part of me
Why have you left me with these shadows?
An echo in my head
I feel so isolated
As life is passing by
A darker and moodier direction is taken on “Fallen”. Almost Gothic in capacity, the song proves a mournful four minutes with its forward keyboard emphasis and moving vocal performance from Redin. Occasional death growls complement the muscular guitar driven focus.
“A Place To Go” takes a more straight on hard rock heading. With exception of the instrumental opening, keyboards do not quite make the same impact but guitars do (full, profound and placed perfectly in the mix). Chorus is smooth and flowing and verses staunch as it gets. Lyric snippet:
And I’ve been walking this road alone
Poison’s running through my veins
And I still don’t know where to go
Why give up?
Though you’ve lost it all
It can still be found
So why give in?
Even though it is dark
You can still find a place
Some variety presents itself on “Exile”, ranging from trudging guitars and hulking low end to stiller moments carried in more quiet fashion. In between you will find symphonic keyboards helping lend to what amounts a disconsolate environs. Lyric snippet:
I’m runnin’ away to a new horizon
I follow the stream to a place
To find some peace
I’m leaving my home
To sail towards a hope
Far out in the sea
I fall down on my knees
I’ve been dreaming away
Bit I’m still here
“Inner Voice” features some of the albums livelier moments: A spirited instrumental introduction stands alongside what amounts an ethereal flowing but moving chorus and verses on the more direct side of things. Again, keyboards are done to perfection.
Back to mid-tempo territory with “Left In This World”, another mood filled paced with occasional changes in tempo (to a gentler, keyboard based direction) but predominantly carried by the groups staunch guitar driven proclivity. Extreme vocals make their second albeit brief appearance for the album.
Aptly entitled, “Waiting For The Rain” proves one of the albums more Gothic tinged. The song slowly plods its length, downcast and bereft but upholding melody in equal amounts at the same time. Redin sings her most crystalline while some extreme growls are thrown in for good measure, making for an inviting combination. Lyric snippet:
I hear a soft and distant tune
As I’m lying awake in bed
A silent whisper in my ear
An angel choir
Sings their praise songs
Of shelter throughout the day
The flower is glowing
Despite the tears
Rising through it all
Its’ reaching for perfection
Under the sun
It’s waiting for the rain to come
“Silence” highlights more symphonic elements. Keyboards are over the top while chorus sweeps and soars. Guitars, at the same time, add to the songs backbone and periodic extreme vocals some needed bite to the backdrop.
“Autumn Breaks” begins to full on instrumental energy only to settle down to a piano for its more tranquil verses. Momentum is regained, however, as the rhythm guitar returns and leads the way to a drifting chorus capturing some of the spirit at the start. I wish the album presented with a few more up-tempo moments like this here. Lyric snippet:
I’m holding on to the memories of June
I can’t believe that all is gone
I fall apart but at the end of this year
I hope to find a way to rest my heart
I know that the summer is gone now
The leaves have all fallen to the ground
The flowers have gone away
To arise once again
The sun’s casting lonely shadows
An invitation of
The darkness that lies ahaed
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Isolated” (3:46), “Fallen” (4:09), “A Place To Go” (4:28), “Exile” (3:59), “Inner Voice” (4:41), “Left In This World” (3:47), “Waiting For The Rain” (3:59), “Silence” (4:17), “Autumn Breaks” (3:50)
Elin Redin - Vocals
Erik Tordsson - Guitars, Vocals & Keyboards
Johan Nöjd - Bass
Johan Svensson - Drums
Drums - Daniel Berg
Growls - Barry Halldan