To say that there has been a weight of expectation riding on this is an understatement, for me at least. Why? Because I absolutely love Attan’s 2015 debut EP From Nothing. After then seeing the band live at the following year’s Damnation Festival, and even meeting the band there to have a chat with them, I very definitely wanted more. As such, this album is looooong overdue from when the band originally stated it should tentatively appear.
Has the wait been worth it? You’d better damn well believe it.
This is blistering blackened hardcore punk, enhanced by fiercely metallic elements and post-hardcore, doom, and sludge. End Of is blisteringly savage, with an inherent darkness that seems to ooze from every guitar note and drum beat like something malignant and old. One of the great things about Attan, however, is that there’s more to them than just mere intensity. Alongside the more punishing aspects of their delivery there are also slower and more considered approaches taken, as well as nuance and texture woven into their ferocious assault.
One of the first things I noticed from looking at the tracklist for this album is that one of my favourite tracks from the band’s debut EP – Black Liquid Marrow – was listed as song number six. It gets a new lease of dark life on End Of, and remains one of the band’s standout songs.
As for the new material, this isn’t found slacking, however. Nope, Attan don’t seem to have lost any of their ability to write catchy, engaging songs. In some ways it could be surprising to think of a band like Attan as being catchy, but the material here really is very memorable and compelling, even on first listen. Out of the nine tracks on End Of each one of them has its own individuality and distinct personality, and they’re all memorably scarring in their own way.
Attan combine bleak, despairing blackened mayhem with raw, emotive aggression very well. Sprinkle in some destructive post-hardcore melody and the type of apocalyptic atmosphere that would do Neurosis proud, and you have 35 minutes of multifaceted extremity that sees most ostensibly similar bands pale by comparison.
The dual vocal approach that the band take that worked so well on From Nothing is intact and thriving on End Of. Most of the vocals are performed by the band’s main singer; he has a scathing, acidic scream for the bulk of his delivery. He’s ably backed up by other vocal styles, most notably the deep, bear-like presence of the band’s bassist, who sounds like a cross between a burly doom metal singer and an avalanche.
The songs get arguably more complex, involved, and impressive as the album progresses, with Black Liquid Marrow acting as somewhat of a turning point in many ways. On this song, and after, every track gets developed at deeper levels, and with more intricate delivery and songwriting from the band members. Throughout, Attan never lose the direct impact that they’re capable of, but this is enhanced by further atmospheric, emotive, and grimly effective layers, previously only touched upon lightly in the first five tracks or so. This culminates in the final song, and title track, which reaches almost 10 minutes in length and sees the band spreading their wings wider than ever before in stunning fashion.
Mix the sort of creative intensity that powers bands such as Neurosis and Converge with a Norwegian darkness and intensity, and you’ll have a decent idea of what Attan get up to on this impressive album. End Of is the type of high-impact album that I love. Mixing punishing intensity with atmospheric, emotive darkness isn’t easy, but Attan make it seem so.