Rising from the ashes of the incestuous Canadian black/death metal scene (ashes of which are still smoldering, I might add), Death Worship have put forth a ceremonial offering. Titled End Times, a title undoubtedly fitting within our world of crime and decay, the ten-minute EP blends first-wave black metal with the primitive Canadian bestial black metal scene. What’s not to love?
While I often pose as the knowledgeable overseer of all things loud and heavy, I am in some circumstances but a mere poser. The throes of bestial black metal are an area of which my tastes have not yet been indulged-upon, for a reason unpondered until this very discussion. Such an outlier is certainly odd, as I’m really big on ‘80s bands that pioneered earlier forms of Death Worship’s sound; Celtic Frost and Bathory are always on heavy rotation in the dungeon.
Death Worship is the newest creative endeavour of Ryan Förster, British Columbia native and member of Conqueror, a Canadian black/death band that operated within the late ‘90s. A bit of context here: the three big Canadian war metal bands are Blasphemy, Revenge, and Conqueror, of which many share members. While I hadn’t heard of Conqueror prior to today’s fatal indulgence, Blasphemy and Revenge are revered within the metal scene as a whole. Either way, these are some pretty big names considering their creative output of choice is built upon misanthropy and headache-inducing percussion.
Anyways, Förster arose from Conqueror’s splitting and joined he Blasphemy, who are currently returning in massive fashion following their infamous pair of initial albums that released back in the early ‘90s. He is joined by Gerry Buhl, founding member of Blasphemy, and James Read, founding member of Revenge. While Death Worship has been solely promoted as Förster’s creative project, there are certainly some big names here within the Canadian scene. Let’s give End Times a good ol’ dissection, shall we?
One thing that plagues the music style of our brazen-booted foes over here is that it is very abrasive, harsh, and dissonant. You might be talking back to your computer screen furiously, introducing the fact that all metal is “abrasive,” inherently. Well, yeah, however bestial black metal is found at the extreme end of the spectrum of abrasiveness. You’ve got maniacal guitar solos, chainsaw-esque guitar tones, and pure guttural screaming. Furthermore, the nihilistic captivations of the subgenre’s designs tend to put the music style in a corner. The fellows who curate this type of stuff are usually introverted, hermits, and refuse to promote their music as this isn’t necessarily about fame, fortune, or recognition, its really a lifestyle. Also, they may or may not be nationalists, but you can never really tell with these things. Perhaps not in regard to End Times specifically, but certainly some of Revenge’s material can get pretty dicey at times; funnily enough, they don’t publish their lyrics anywhere, huh.
Luckily for us, Death Worship seem to have dropped any form of controversial subject matter and have limited their thematic presence to that centric of nihilism and maybe some anti-establishment stuff here and there, which is all good in my books. These intrusive designs are paired with a very typical bestial sound, as we discussed prior that these things tend to all sound the same.
There’s a lot of variation to be found on End Times. While the incessant blast beats and satanic screaming are as present as ever, the four tracks to be found are fairly decipherable, which eases the listening experience a bit. In order of appearance, “Stand Witness to Atrocity” opens with a very typical and repetitive nature, operating with back-and-forth groovy/blazing fast portions. “The Poisoned Chalice” follows with a noticeably different arsenal of sound, albeit ultimately manifesting with a similar sound and song structure to the opening track although with different riffs swapped for others.
“Slaughtersiege” is my favourite of the four-track bunch, as it incorporates an underlying complexity within the guitarwork that the other tracks seem to lack. This one’s a bit more interesting to listen to as it strays from the cut/paste style of these other numbers.
Finally, “Masters and Monolith” closes with another blend of polar speed extremes, opening with a slower paced section and closing with another indecipherably fast guitar solo.
Our little walk through the End Times park proved my point about bestial black metal. Perhaps I’m trapped within my own preconceptions of the subgenre and we’re caught in the midst of a self-fulfilling prophecy here, but I honestly doubt it. Every song on End Times is built upon a formula of which either fast or slow portions are interjected at random. Some tracks like “Slaughtersiege” operate at a breakneck pace the whole way through, while others like “Stand Witness to Atrocity” and “The Poisoned Chalice” blend different speeds. Maniacal screaming and taser-like guitar solos are then injected, forming what we call to be the bestial black metal subgenre. From what I’ve observed, this is a universal truth that can be applied to most works of this nature. If bands don’t do things to shake up their sound such as play with longer song structures or different sonic elements, this is what you get when you spin a bestial black metal record.
All in all, End Times is actually a strong effort. It is trapped in a corner alongside a lot of other similar releases, but for what its worth, its role has been served. Personally, I can surely get behind some of this stuff, but I’ll stick to the classics when the time comes. There have been some hyped war metal demo releases of late which I could see myself getting wrapped up in, but in terms of just casually listening to this stuff during my listening time, I’d much rather focus on something a little more technical and less restrained. However, if you’re a war metal enthusiast, End Times will certainly be a great addition to your collection.