Several months ago I got a review copy of “Into The Opaque…” by the Dutch Progressive Death Metal band ENDLESS CYCLE. The band was formed in 2005 and put out a 3-track demo in 2007. Two of those songs, “Failure” and “Blueprint (Aquaphobia)”, made it onto the debut album. Before this first full-length came out (self-released on the 26th November 2011) the band shared the stage with a.o. VAN KATOEN, INTWINE, THE PROPHECY, KUTSCHURFT and CONQUEST OF STEEL. And last but not least, THE LUCIFER PRINCIPLE on the 19th November.
ENDLESS CYCLE is said to play Progressive Metal with influences from Thrash, Death and even Progressive Rock from the 1970s. I’m not that familiar with the last genre, but I (obviously) did reconigze the other influences. They’re so obvious, you can hear it each song. The songs on “Into The Opaque…” are indeed Progressive, as the band changes from one branch to the other and depending on the song, there are several branches to jump onto. With 8 tracks and a total playtime of almost 60 minutes, be prepared for an intense ride.
It begins with “Creation Of Nothing”. Here you get a direct attack of raw Death Metal and growls. The drums are complimented by percussion, which gives the music a nice twist. The kickdrums however are triggered and you can hear that clearly. In addition, early on, the music sounds like a car that doesn’t want to move, due to the kind of stop-start playing. Maybe there’s a reason for that. Anyway, ENDLESS CYCLE make their songs varied, without question. Changes in rhythm, tempo, melody… it’s all there. And while some transitions work, others don’t. For instance, going from raw power to a melodic, atmospheric piece with clean vocals… it happened too abruptly. Also, to my ears, this calmer piece doesn’t fit. Maybe this is due to the production or something, but I failed to understand the move.
In “Released” the playing flows better. Beginning with a building intro and then letting pounding Death Metal (at least in a first instance) break loose. There’s a nice guitar solo to connect with the next part and the drums then also are adapted. The mix of Death and Thrash works pretty well here, but the production remains a bug on the end result. “Blueprint (Aquaphobia)” also offers diversity and variation, perhaps too much: Melodic Death Metal, a Jazzy piece, clean à la OPETH (for example) and then back to brutal power. I found it hard to distinguish the parts. “Failure” has something NOVEMBERS DOOM-like. The vocals are again divided between Boris and Maarten (cleans), while the music heads into a Thrashy direction later on. But the whole does sound tiring at some point. You can make a distinction between verses, chorus, bridge, … but there’s no need to overdo it.
In “Opaque Portrait” the guys opted for what you could call chugga chugga Metal, but the real take-off is yet to take place then. Again I had to think of NOVEMBERS DOOM. Growling and clean vocals take turns before the cleans take over in an atmospheric part. And that concludes the first half of the song, for then the ravens come in and we hear footsteps outside, coming inside the church. A spooky atmosphere is created and then hell is unleashed (through the music). The song ends like started. I don’t get it. 😐 In “Controlled By Them” you get midtempo Metal with growls. The chorus, if that’s the chorus, contains melodic touches and later on there’s a tempo increase à la ICED EARTH, only heavier. Not bad, all in all.
“Driven By Greed” takes a slow melodic start, which is the basis for the verses, where screaming/weeping guitars are dominant. Vocally it’s about growls, though the cleans come in later. The music does get a Thrashy kick in the butt with the solo moment. Last but not least, there’s “Pride”, an atmospheric, Jazzy song. The second half is where the Metal comes in.
I listened to “Into The Opaque…” a couple of times, but I’m sorry to say that on neither of the occasions my enthusiasm was aroused. I like Progressive Metal, I like Death Metal, I like Thrash Metal. And I like Progressive Death Metal like ATHEIST, DEATH, BEYOND CREATION, OBSCURA, and so on. ENDLESS CYCLE may have good ideas, but the execution isn’t always that good and I have the impression they wanted to cram as much (change, diversity, …) as possible into one song, which then harms the transitions and overall listenability. In addition, I’ve said it before, the production (overall) just doesn’t do the songs justice. So I’m guessing that it’s best to see the band play their songs on stage to get a better idea and perhaps appreciate them more. At least, in my humble opinion. But if you’re into (very) Progressive Extreme Metal, then you might want to check out “Into The Opaque…”.
- Creation Of Nothing
- Blueprint (Aquaphobia)
- Opaque Portrait
- Controlled By Them
- Driven By Greed
Boris van der Weij – vocals
Maarten D’Haese – clean vocals, guitar
José Leijnse – bass
Elmer Sonnevijlle – drums