Released: 2017, Napalm Records
End of Green are one of those bands toiling just outside the periphery of most metal fans. Hence, their ninth full-length album, VOID ESTATE, has expectedly gone unnoticed and sparsely reviewed by the metal community. For those not familiar with the band, they formed in 1992 in Germany. Initial offerings were primarily doom metal with a noticeable incorporation of grunge. As the band evolved, their music became a cross-pollination of three bands, namely Type O Negative, Sentenced and Paradise Lost. While not as good as any of those bands, and cursed with a pathetic name, they have continually offered compelling music that is dark, melancholic and brooding.
VOID ESTATE goes all in for soundscapes of isolated sadness and resignation, an exercise in depression and despair. To achieve this, the band has removed much of their crunchy distortion and allowed clean picked, minor chord arpeggios and broken chords to serve as the background for Michelle Darkness’s most versatile vocal effort to date. The first two tracks quickly reveal the band’s current approach, reconciled with styles of the past. “Send In The Clowns” opens the album and demonstrates the template for VOID ESTATE, featuring a slow tempo, lack of crunch, but establishing an undeniable mood. “Dark Side Of The Sun” represents the style of past albums, with a little more crunch as Michelle Darkness channels Peter Steele, the whole track actually being a worthy nod to Type O Negative.
“The Unseen” almost sounds like The Church, and you could argue VOID ESTATE leans more towards a neo-psychedelic sound fused with goth that offers the occasional power chord. The album presses on, eventually ending at just under an hour. During that journey, only “Dark Side Of The Sun” offers any aggression. Thus, as a fan, I am still trying to digest what exactly the band is trying to do with VOID ESTATE. Long-time fans will doubtless find both the familiar and the perplexing on this album.
My final analysis is this: inevitably, bands age, harder edges soften, and you end up with an album that in many ways is End of Green’s most daring and compositionally sophisticated effort. Still, the lack of distortion eventually wore me down along with the fact that I could not shake the feeling this would have been huge on indie, college rock radio stations circa 1984-1987. Musically, and emotionally this achieves the melancholic atmosphere the band set out to sustain, but at what cost? Evaluated in succession with albums like THE PAINSTREAM and HIGH HOPES IN LOW PLACES, it is easy to discern how VOID ESTATE is quite a departure. It remains to be seen if this direction is permanent, or some bounce and heft will return with future efforts. An album for a rainy dark day, but not to be absorbed in one sitting.