Review Summary: A big departure, for the worse
In 2003, three Japanese women, none of whom knew anything about how to play an instrument, came together to form the band Gallhammer. Their first release, Gloomy Lights, was a raw formative display, a show of the elements of primitive rage, nihilistic anguish, and hopelessly bleak torment that would be a characteristic of Gallhammer and would be refined--or, perhaps, distilled to an even more archaic, primitive state--on their next release, Ill Innocence.
Unfortunately, in 2010, some three years after the recording of Ill Innocence, guitarist Mika Penetrator (yes, Penetrator) left the group, reportedly to focus on a career as a singer elsewhere, leaving drummer Risa Reaper and singer/bassist Vivian Slaughter (see what they're doing with the names there?) as the remaining members to Gallhammer's name. The choice was between capsizing due to the loss of what would seem to be an instrumental member--though really anyone can play the guitar lines with very little difficulty--finding someone else, or continuing as a two piece band. For better or for worse, Gallhammer chose the third option--and their subsequent release, The End, took a quick dive into 'for worse' territory.
The End does away with a lot of the 'crust punk' influenced parts that had been a well-enjoyed part of Gallhammer at its best, and while this alone doesn't seem like such a big detraction, it seems that along with the crust punk went everything that made listening to Gallhammer an engaging experience--something was lost between Ill Innocence and The End, leaving behind a stale, uninteresting collection of songs that largely fails to hold the listener's interest.
Gallhammer does, however, add something on this album--but it doesn't help it. At all. Said something would be the vocals of drummer Risa Reaper--and I can only shake my fist at the skies and scream "WHY?!?!" at this, because it's a terrible idea. Reaper's voice sounds like a rather annoying eight year old girl--it just has no place in Gallhammer alongside Vivian Slaughter's punishing, excruciated vocals. Unfortunately, they're found on nearly half the songs. And those songs just might have been the more interesting ones if the presence of Reaper's vocals didn't make them more or less unlistenable.
Those songs which aren't ruined by the little girl vocals are, sadly, bland and boring in their own right. They're repetitive, not particularly original, sometimes overlong, and invariably uninteresting. There is none of the destitute, disturbed, gritty atmosphere of their prior two releases, and no feeling is really evoked except for "Where did they go wrong?" I found myself wondering consistently what happened to the old Gallhammer that I had enjoyed greatly, because I can hardly find any hints of it in this record.
All in all I wouldn't recommend The End to anyone. As opposed to being musically bad or particularly terrible, it's just boring and uninteresting, and sure as hell doesn't hold up to Ill Innocence and Gloomy Lights in any way, shape, or form.