Review Summary: A rare but sterling example of the elusive critically defensible deathcore record.
Metal as a general style of music has, in recent times, found itself in a curiously divided state. Purists doggedly abide to the progenitors and classics as the end-all be-all of the metal hammer, while modernists revel in the recent influx of hardcore and outside influences. Nowhere is this divide more apparent than in deathcore, perhaps metal's most problematic subgenre. First, let us address the elephant in the proverbial room of deathcore: the genre is divisive, abrasive, and perpetually mired in polarizing rhetoric. Demagogues complain that it's supersaturated with hacks that are an embarrassment to metal as a whole, while proponents find unfathomable satisfaction the genre's unique if ubiquitous elements.
Make no mistake, End Game
is deathcore through and through. Shadow of the Colossus run the gamut of frenetic blast-beat to admittedly cheesy breakdown with reckless abandon; to hell with the consequences. Yet, where lesser acts would slather on the hardcore in an attempt to appeal to deathcore's lowest common denominator, Shadow of the Colossus pay homage to the various subgenres of metal tastefully and in an apparently genuine and impossibly successful fashion. No melody is allowed to fully overshadow the bleak, crushing onslaught of polyrhythmic brutality, and no chugging riff trundles on beyond its lifespan without morphing into some grimmer, heavier chugging riff. Every note of End Game
is fantastically equipped to offend any conservative.
Through sheer virtuosity and murderous execution, End Game
exhibits a band threatening to overthrow genre juggernauts like All Shall Perish and The Contortionist's standing as flagship models of deathcore in its ultimate form. However, where their respective peers specialize in utilizing oppressively undeniable mastery or visionary progression, Shadow of the Colossus simply employ the same familiar elements with lethal precision and relentless creative mettle. From bluesy guitar interludes to anthemic aural devastation encapsulated in static form, End Game
is a damn near perfect representation of brutal, technical death metal wed expertly to bro-fisting, scream-a-longing hardcore. Rarely does such a niche style feel so completely encompassed into a single album. Perhaps most notable is Shadow of the Colossus' use of every imaginable range of scream, piercing to guttural, wholly dedicated to its purpose of putting uninspired deathcore vocals to absolute shame.
At times impossibly technical, and others tranquil to the point of treading outside the arena of deathcore entirely, End Game
is awe-inspiring in its ambition, and heralds a colossal leap forward in the band's discography. Every track is a tyrant in its own right, and offers a chance for fans to bask in Shadow of the Colossus' primal, chaotic glory; an opportunity to grapple with deathcore's new final boss.