As much as a riot of sound and a brawl of instant provocation go down a treat with these ears so do sonic and imagination sparking musical journeys and that is exactly what you get with the impressive debut release from UK band End Begin. A collection of evolving and thought provoking creative episodes in the gripping tale of one man’s journey to save his race, Empire Fools is a captivating and imaginative adventure challenging “listeners to look at humanity’s current ways and to truly question their roles in society.” From start to finish the release grips ears and thoughts, at times more dramatically than in other moments, but constantly provides a richly enticing and unrelentingly enjoyable proposition.
Hailing from Leeds, the progressive rock/post metal quartet emerged in 2010 and since then has bred a strong and loyal local following which with the release of Empire Fools threatens to spread much further afield and we suggest swiftly. Live the band has become an acclaimed part of the northern underground circuit and taken in shows with the likes of Thine and Pteroglyph along the way. Produced by guitarist David J. Freeman with the rest of the band, Empire Fools has be a proposition the band has taken its time over, a creative incitement that has been intensely sculpted and honed until finding the striking depth and persuasion of sound which embraces ears and immerses the imagination from opener Tey’sha onwards.
The first track emerges from a sonic fuelled atmosphere of almost intimidating suggestiveness, the portentous air blossoming into a tempest of hearty riffs and antagonistic rhythms. The guitar of Freeman is as imposing as it is fiery whilst the bass of Rory Smith adds a dark menace which complements the pungent strikes of drummer Dominic Turton and contrasts the emerging expressive melodic enterprise of the track perfectly. Soon seemingly established, the direction of sound suddenly swerves on ears and slips into a post rock apocalyptic calm, bass and guitar again a contrasting but united design of imagination and craft. This shadowed peace welcomes the excellent voice of Dave Rangel, his warm and expressive tones unveiling the narrative whilst backed well by the voice of Freeman. We mentioned Pteroglyph earlier and there is a definite similarity in structure and evocative nature to the song, and indeed album, to the project of Jimmy MacGregor, though in sound they stand apart. The track continues to twist and shift in creativity and character throughout, offering a persistently absorbing and exciting start to the album.
An opening bubbling of riffs and guitar endeavour ensures the start of Missionary has an instant grip on ears and imagination next, a hold tightening as again impressive vocals and a darker rhythmic side joins the provocative canvas of emotion and sound. Bursts of impassioned and technical intensity and moments of creative and vocal intimacy are fused and entangled across the song, their unity helping make the encounter an immediately alluring proposal though, as its predecessor and the rest of the album, holding more in its depths which only subsequent flights through the release begin to reveal.
Empire Fools is definitely an album which flourishes and strengthens over a wealth of listens. There is no denying that it makes a strong first persuasion but as shown again in Lice, it only grows to a greater and more impressive stature given increasing time and attention. The third track has a heavier more volatile metallic substance to its flurries and perpetual prowl, epitomised by the earthy and sinister tone of the bass. Freeman’s guitar finds a great inflamed and acidic quality to its most compelling endeavour yet, whilst vocally Rangel more than solid in his main delivery brings great drama and adventure with additional twists and turns. The track is exceptional, an early big favourite and pinnacle in the release though straight away backed resourcefully by, after the beauty soaked ambience of the brief instrumental After Martyrdom, the progressive and melodic seducing of Numbers. Ten minutes long, the journey begins in a mellow kiss of voice and sonic charm subsequently brewing up more stormy scenery through bass and drums for the revelation of the lyrical adventure. In theme song and album is as rich and immersive as the sounds and enjoyable also needs many plays to fully piece together and explore.
At times there is an essence of UK band An Entire Legion to the End Begin sound across the album and indeed KingBathmat certainly to this track, nothing thick but a regular and potent coincidental scent which only adds to the riveting temptation. Trium Virum is another offering a similar suggestiveness though its beginning is more akin to the Arcade Messiah side of the creativity of KingBathmat’s John Bassett. The song is a smouldering and sultry yet reserved wash over the senses, ripe in sonic and melodic flames courtesy of Freeman with an almost predatory yearning care of Smith’s tantalising basslines. Fair to say it is another big highlight of the ever impressing encounter.
Rangel’s voice at times has a task to stand equal to the striking and dramatic enterprise elsewhere, but even without any real snarl or aggression to take them on he constantly stands by their side in potency and clarity, the production offering a strong base which he exploits perfectly as evidenced once more in the epic closing track. Another imagination inciting instrumental comes first; Remnants a tapestry of sonic clues for thought to run with before another extensive outing in Becoming brings the album to a stirring end. A dark start is driven by a vocal menacing before slipping into an even more tempestuous and agitated, almost capricious landscape with the stunning enterprise of Turton especially shining. It is a creative emprise though with just as potent warm colours and intimidating hues to its presence, crafting an engrossing and exhilarating offering for ears and psyche to take on. Again it is a song needing numerous visits to fully explore and appreciate its growth into the album’s most impressive track, but certainly it has body and emotions lit from its first flight too.
Empire Fools just grows and lures the passions into greedier satisfaction with every listen, increasing the evidence that it and End Begin is a must investigation for all progressive rock and metal fans. It is hard to imagine there being many debuts making a bigger impact within those genres this year and deserves keen attention.
Empire Fools is out now via https://endbegin.bandcamp.com/
It is also available as an 8GB wafer USB containing extensive material such as guitar tabs, a digital booklet, a full digital painting, and a special featurette from the studio. For more info…
Upcoming live dates …
Wed 29th May The Washington, Sheffield, UK
Fri 8th May The Snooty Fox, Wakefield, UK
Fri 22nd May Parish, Huddersfield, UK
Sat 23rd May Chameleon Arts Café, Nottingham, UK
Sat 22nd Aug Lincoln Imp, Scunthorpe, UK
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net