Review Summary: "Cleanse the blood from our hands / Purify the earth / Release the wolves, hell is raised"
The music industry has become a bit desensitized. Seriously, music itself has been around probably since before mankind could stand on two legs, but it has seen quite a radical change in the past, oh, eighty years. Even back then Elvis Presley and Ray Charles were considered to be of the devil, an evil type of music. Bullocks to today’s crowd, but that’s just how it was in those simpler times. Now music has taken a nose dive into what it considered 'legitly frightening music'. Too many times do we hear about bands coming out with a ‘darker, heavier sound’, to the point where it might seem redundant and even atypical of the scene. So when we hear that two British hardcore bands, End Reign and Alaska, have gotten together and released a split under the foreboding yet straightforward album name of ‘Baphomet’ one might carelessly think of it as just another gimmick to become the next dark thing for the genre. This presumption, however, is wrong.
Releasing a split CD is a risky endeavor. Sure, it has its positives but there is always the risk of having one band outshine the other. Splits can also showcase the best of both bands, as what happened in Touche Amore and La Disputes split, and it becomes a battle of supremacy as to who can outshine the next band. On ‘Baphomet’ we see a clash of two bands that fall under horror punk inspired hardcore, with each band releasing two songs that is basically a showcase of their abilities as musicians and song writers and there tends to be a bit of an unbalance as End Reign typically shines brighter than Alaska.
This is not a slight on Alaska though. On ‘Baphomet’ we see Alaska contributing two tracks ‘Mark of Life
’ and ‘Gold Blood
’. Alaska, as a band, embody a more basic approach to hardcore music, d-beat inspired drum tracking, with the guitars tending to float more towards the ‘tough-guy’ approach. This compliments vocalist Ryan Dixon quite well, as his vocal type is akin to acts like The Banner or Reign Supreme. End Reigns, however, while still employing a horror punk style of hardcore, are on a different type of spectrum. Where Alaska follows a more straight-forward, tried and true approach to hardcore, End Reigns style is more chaotic and more dissonant. This is probably more prevalent because of End Reigns vocalist Geoff Cairns, who’s higher pitched, dissonantly tortured voice could almost be a cousin to Jacob Bannon himself. This might be an overstatement, of course, but it makes the tracks that End Reigns offer, ‘Release the Wolves
’ and ‘Paradise
’, standout a bit more than the typical, yet highly enjoyable tracks found by Alaska.
Each of these bands has potential that, if exploited correctly, can help them become leaders in the UK hardcore scene. While Alaska might have a bit more of a climb than End Reigns has in terms of standing out in an industry desensitized by time, they still have time to spice up their sound to keep listeners attentive. End Reigns is definitely on the right track to become the newest leaders in the horror hardcore genre. Equipped with a gifted vocalist, they need only let natural experience and the ability to take risks and push their sound-crafting to have them become leaders in the scene. Altogether, ‘Baphomet’ is both a scary album that won’t necessarily make a listener cower in a corner, but will definitely pique the interests of those attempting to keep an eye on the rising stars coming out of this particular genre.