Coming straight out of Coventry, Connecticut is the band SEES with one of the best underground releases I have heard this year in Theend (the-end, very clever fellas). In my guise as a professional music appreciator I hear tons of bands on a constantbasis, both signed an unsigned. SEES is easily one of the more inventive and flat out heavy bands I have come across in 2011. Although they categorize themselves under the catch-all “djent” tag, their music is diverse enough to defy labels while touching a variety of cool influences. Isn’t it all just metal in the end? We can have an argument all day and night about djent and its validity as a name for sub-genre if you want to, but for the purpose of this review, I’ll let it go… for now. Upon my first listen to this album I was headbanging and one-man moshing around my living room and generally acting a fool. After doing that for a while I sat down to give Theend a proper examination and review.
Right from the jump the intro “Inhale” just checks your earpiece with heaviness and a taste of what is to come. “Stare” kicks things of in earnest and it is just a crushing ball of rage. The angular riffage and grinding beats immediately call to mind the best names of the genre. Vocalist Brian Malke has a throat scrapping scream that compliments the harness of the music well. Second cut “Ungrateful Self” features a neat sounding layered vocal trick that sounds amazing and calls to mind Mark Hunter of CHIMAIRA, but might be difficult to pull off live by ones’ self. Then the first surprise of the album came next however, as a soaring and lovely chorus took hold. Malke really has the goods and immediately upped the “break out” quotient for me on these guys. Mark Juliano punishes the drums on this and every cut here and has the requisite fast feet for this style too. Next up is “Nonsense” with more complex and aggro riffage courtesy of Joel Quinn (the band recently added another guitarist named Eric and are looking to fill the bass slot now). He really is the linchpin of the band and marries some intricate fluid solos on this song to go with his harsh chunking chords. “Nonsense” is my favorite track on the album too.
“Slowly” and “Nailbiter” are two more songs that have real legs in terms of getting this band wider play. Each had all of the bells and whistles the other tracks have, but also take your ears on cool little excursions of melody and rhythm that really impressed bme. Shades of SoCal techie death metal skate in and out of these songs, while never truly abandoning the main idea. “Hidden” returns to the straight up brutality and for some reason also reminds me of the heyday of early FEAR FACTORY, while the chorus and melodic guitars can give the boys in UK upstarts TESSERACT a run for their money.
The instrumental “Exhale” book ends the album and finishes with an amusing “shhh”. The only quibble I have with the record is these guys are almost too good at what they do. What I mean by that some of these riffs are so good, once in a while I’d love to hear them grind one out as a straight up breakdown and give the kids something to dance to. That may just be my hardcore ears talking. I suspect these
guys are above such petty ideas without being as pretentious as I just made them sound. Ultimately it is their ability to set themselves apart musically that will be the difference for these up and comers in terms of getting out of the growing djent ghetto someday. You can download their album for free here.