Review Summary: Stretchy, all encompassing genres aside, End on End is blanketed with emotion and chock full of lyrical and musical value.
There are few revolutionary bands out there, but there is never a shortage of people out there ready to toss out words like innovative or influential or genre defying or a number of other meaningless words. So I downloaded End on End with a grain of salt. How could this album live up to all the hype?
Stretchy, all encompassing genres aside, End on End is blanketed with emotion and chock full of lyrical and musical value.
The first track, aptly named “Spring,” jumps right in and rips into you with Guy Picciotto’s relatively restrained but obviously pained voice. This song is the exemplification of Rites of Spring’s earlier material. It makes excellent use of the guitar with alternating highs and lows punching in rapid fire succession and a booming bass line that ties together and often pushes to the forefront. The chorus also showcases Guy’s cleverness. “Caught at a distance from myself,” he screams, “and there was there one there to know / what could I do?”
Another highlight is the track “For Want Of,” an angst ridden song about an old flame. “I woke up this morning / with a piece of past caught in my throat / and then I choked,” he sings. The droning and artistically monotonous guitar chugs out the same bittersweet major riff as the bass player alternates between two beautifully selected high note and Guy poignantly wails the verse.
The album continues on for two more songs until it reaches the best song, “Drink Deep.” It’s the slowest and longest song on the album, and that makes it sound epic. Guy expresses a self-loathing in this song not just through his lyrics but his bitterly scratchy screeches and moaning made him sound like a man having his last orgasm before leaving his best girl for war.
The genius of the first part of the album is in the pacing and the foiling of musical parts. Guy’s voice is pained all through-out the album, and thus the guitars are almost upbeat, and the bass line sounds like something to dance to. “All There Is,” a song about how much he loves a girl and the closest thing to a classic love song on there, is immediately followed by “Drink Deep,” easily one of the most angst-ridden songs on the album, which is directly followed by a quick song with a happy guitar riff. It keeps the music from sounding stale and from being too much.
“End On End,” the title track and a previously unreleased song, is sort of a stepping stone from their older material to their newer material. The guitars are less distorted than their earlier stuff, and there is also more of a focus the melody of the guitar. The end is reminiscent of the interlude in “Drink Deep,” but without Guy’s moans. It’s just the bass line with some artsy noise over it.
The All Through a Life EP at the end is every bit as good as the first part of the album, but taken in a completely direction. Instead of playing the same guitar parts, the guitars play off of each other to be melodic and mellow, and there are some cool drum breakdowns. If there is any criticism I have of this part of the album, it’s that Guy Picciotto’s voice can sometimes be more aggressive than is appropriate for a backing band that sounds so mellow. But fear not, the album ends long before the dynamic gets old.
Hearing this album makes me mournful. The evolution of Rites of Spring’s material is like a good ending to a movie: unexpected and inevitable. Unfortunately, as is the curse of most of DC Hardcore (barring Fugazi), Rites of Spring lasted only 2 years. But in those two years of songs contained on End on End is some of the most potent and arguably important music to date. If you have ever been interested in hardcore punk, get your hands on this album.