3 out of 5
Label: Hydra Head
Produced by: Atsuo
I’m sure this stuff tears out your ears when cranked to the max on headphones, or when speakers are surging at ear-bleeding levels during a live set, but listening to it at home, the celebrated “catastrophic noise metal” that is Endon, on their debut, Mama, just kinda sounds… like noise. And not noise noise, in which all manner of instrumental and sometimes vocal madness combine to make something completely unlistenable, and thus – to some of us – incredibly listenable, and fascinating, Mama comes across more as a splatter of thoughts and energy without a focused outlet. And lacking the patience to find that focus, the group went with doing everything at once, and thus: noise.
Which isn’t to say it’s not without promise, but it’s surprisingly backgroundable, with all of the band’s passion – the acrobatic grindcore vocals; the scattershot mix of thrash and punk and hardcore – getting rather smoothed out into an, eh, pleasant? wash of white noise by Boris’ Atuso’s production; I had turned the volume down, expecting to offend the neighbors, but then realized I could turn it back up and just let the music kinda hum while I did whatever, the album’s output the equivalent of a fidgeting bee – I don’t bother it, it doesn’t bother me.
If I do bother, there are some appreciable oddities stuck in to several of the pieces, with wholly sudden breaks in the music or shrieking attempts at some type of deconstruction, and surely some quality riffs and performances peeking out here and there. But the only moment on Mama that really made me want to hear something more from the band is the 15 minute Acme Apathy Amok: here the group doesn’t do everything at once, and instead cycles all of their various genres through different sections of the song, while also keeping it effectively chugging along for its whole runtime. It’s still not perfect, but it had me interested, enough so to be curious how the group might shape up with producer Kurt Ballou on their followup album…