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I first heard Ende after listening to their side of the split with Sorcier des Glaces on Spotify. Impressed by their sound, I picked this one up along with the SDG split. Dread Records is proving to be a really good resource, excited to see what else they have in the works.
Comparing this band to SDG is helpful. While SDG play a more wintry and crystalline style of BM, Ende contrast that sound nicely. The band has a much dirtier sound. The crusty guitars and ragged vocals are in no way sloppy, but give a good edge to the music.
Some highlights - "When Crows Flew Above" has very majestic riffs that French bands of this ilk tend to specialize in. They aren't overplayed however, as the music alternates between grandiose and straight up aggressive parts. In general, these two elements are at play throughout the album, but there's enough variety and competent riffcraft to keep the album constantly entertaining (see "The Black Hen's Blood" for another good example of this). There are some tasteful foresty samples throughout the album too, but they're pretty inoffensive - I don't really mind them. All together, it works really well, the BM parts reminding me of some of the more successful moments of LLN from the 90's.
Which brings me to Vlad's appearance on this record. Between his vocal performance on the Recluse debut LP (a really interesting album, one that I hope to write about some time), and now this cameo on the cover of "Under a Carpathian Yoke", the dude seems to be cashing in on his street cred in a convenient way, in that the stuff he appears on tends to be really good. The cover is really good, and as I hopefully got across before, it's not out of place on this album.
Overall a nice surprise and a welcome release. I'm happy that this style of BM scan still sound pretty fresh and relevant.