Released: 2016, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Endolith bill themselves as “True Northern Norwegian Avantgarde.” And there's certainly more than a bit of truth to that on their adventurous, and at times rather strange, self-released debut full-length.
The Tromsø-based trio sound equal parts Arcturus for their abstract, progressive flair and Meshuggah for their djenty heft, with bits of Shining (the jazzy Norwegian version) in the wailing sax at the front and back of the album and Dimmu Borgir-like symphonic black metal thrown in for good measure. Things rarely, umm, voyage into the realm of conventionality on Voyager.
The heaving, drop-tuned grooves and off-kilter rhythms at the heart of much of the material has a distinctly djent/math-metal air about it. Indeed the mechanized guitar tone and pummel is a bit too close to Meshuggah for comfort. But the band merely use that as a launch pad for any number of twists and turns.
Electronic/industrial splashes abound, as do orchestral asides, intermittent clean vocal forays and blast-beaty black metal bursts. Jazz saxophonist Håkon W. Skog Erlandsen adds squealing solos to opener “Galactic Pecking Order” and closer “Holy Curiosity” to bring some free-form levity to the proceedings, as things often get rather brutal, especially when Frode Hofsøy's guttural roar tag teams with Erling Malm's concussive guitaring.
Former vocalist Simon Theodorsen lends a hand on “Gavagai,” the album's most unusual tune. His chanted and hollered cadence bird-dogs the song's clanging, drum corps-like percussion, which recalls Slipknot when they wield the full battery. Aside from Malm's rigid riffing, the song almost seems improvised as its structure hangs by mere threads.
Voyager is pretty heady stuff. And the band's intellect is readily apparent on tracks like the string-tinged “Bertrand Russel on Truth,” the magnificently epic “Hymn to Ares,” “Velocirapture” and “Old as Cancer,” which are steeped in science, philosophy, space exploration, etc. And even though Endolith are careful to match their brains with brawn, so as to not to go over peoples' heads, they are probably a bit too “Avantgarde” for casual metal fans. But if you're up for a challenge, these guys will give you quite a go.