Both End Reign and Alaska have had their demo’s reviewed on this blog before. I was kinda tough on End Reign and a little blunt about Alaska in parts too, may seem cuntish, firm but fair i like to think. That said, i was interested to see that both bands had teamed up to produce this split for Fist In the Air Records and stoked that Jamie who runs the label wanted me to have a listen, all things considered!
Alaska open their side up with Mark Of Life...leading in with an ominous feedback drenched sample, nothing quite sets the mood like creepy children talking about witchery does it? They then treat us to a dirty, big piledriving riff, taken straight out of the Cursed playbook before picking up the pace a little. They’ve gone more for an epic, desolate feel with this song, some nice subtle melancholic guitar work sitting comfortably underneath the singers hoarse bellow. Vocally this dude sounds (and i know i’ve said this before) a lot like Rise & falls vocalist, both in phrasing and throat..definitely works with what they are doing here though if they do a full length i’d like a little variation in delivery to see what else he’s got under the bonnet. Second track Gold Blood follows a similar course but with a great use of stop/start dynamics and dischordant riffing that only adds to the weight. I’m sure both tracks sound beastly live. Though i didn’t care for Alaska last time i saw’em, now they’ve got a year or so’s experience under their belt and a couple of releases in the can, I’m sure they are far more fearsome prospect to behold these days. Well crafted songs, solid mix. Good work.
The other side of this record is owned by End Reign from Durham. I’ve always had a soft spot for that part of the country and the bands it’s produced. Despite giving ER’s demo a so-so review a few months back, i saw a lot of potential in’em and I’ve been waiting to hear what they come up with next. Fucking hell. This is well good. First song Release The Wolves lives up to it’s name and comes tearing out the gates like a pack of rabid dogs. Geoff’s vocals are absolutely LIVID, sounds like he’s ripping the lining off his throat with every breath. It pleases me to hear this type of conviction in a frontman. If he’s not flailing around bloody eyed and snarling like a lunatic when they play this live, i’ll be disappointed!
Riffs wise, we’re talking Systems Overload era Integrity, hard as fuck with plenty of drive, and a nice Clevo crunch to the guitar tone too. Both songs sound massive and filthy. So much better than the demo, this is the kinda gnarly metallic hardcore that i wanted to hear and knew they were capable of. Outstanding. Second song Paradise is not too disimilar to Release.... but has a wicked buildup/breakdown in the middle. Again, sounds like Rise & Fall circa Hellmouth has been a big influence on these lads and they pull it off well. Two absolute bangers from End Reign, I hope someone has the good sense to give these fellas their own release now they’ve finally grown some hair on their balls.
Can't tell you anything about lyrics or artwork for this record because I wasn't sent any, sorry!
Props to FITA records though for taking a gamble on releasing work by two relatively new and un-hyped bands.
EDIT: This split is being released by both Fist In The Air AND Worthless Nights Records (who i'm not familiar with!)