Endonomos – Endonomos
> Releasing August 26
> Argonauta Records
There are few phrases you could stick in a promo package that would grab my attention as immediately as “for fans of Ahab”. That’s why I dropped my scheduled listening and set my hopes high when I saw those words in the EPK for the self-titled debut from new Austrian death/doom outfit Endonomos. Spoiler: I was not disappointed.
This new project is masterminded by bassist and frontman Lukas Haidinger, also of tech death gods Profanity, brutal grindcore band Distaste, and several other similarly fast and frenetic outfits. The musical direction of Endonomos is staggeringly different from his other projects, and quite frankly it’s a shame that he hasn’t explored it ‘til now, because this album is exquisitely crafted. The assembled lineup is similarly pulled from mostly death, thrash, and grind backgrounds—drummer Armin Schweiger is also in Distaste, and guitarists Christoph Steinlechner and Philipp Forster both spent time in thrash band Cemetery Dust with Haidinger—but again, you’d never guess it by how expertly they meld into the gloomy auras of doom.
Now, Endonomos isn’t quite a funeral doom band—they’d need to be noticeably slower way more of the time and a bit more dirgey overall to get there—but they’ve got a knack for moods that categorically ooze melancholy. They create these pensive atmospheres with a combination of mournful melodic leads, trudging slow-tempo riffs that feel like a tired old man trying to scale a never-ending hill, vocals that predominantly growl in fearsome depths but also include soulful cleans, and production that tips its cap to the hallmarks of doom. It’s a remarkable package that delivers crushing blow after crushing blow not to your head, but to your chest and the heart inside it.
Those mournful leads are the biggest reason that this album did indeed sometimes remind me of Ahab, and they’re also the highlight of every single song. Guitarists Forster and Steinlechner make heavy use of these relatively simple, elegiac melodies that draw the listener into their laments. They’re used in riff-like fashion, repeated and often variated and further harmonized as the tracks develop, but I have a tough time calling them riffs when they feel so different from the true riff material the songs are built on. You can see this at work in lead single “Wither and Thrive”, where the main riff begins at 1:25, a thoughtful and somber slow churn, and then when the first plaintive movement begins above it at 2:05. The riff is a damn good one—it feels emotionally weighty and sobering—but that moment that the melody begins above it takes things to a whole new and more sorrowful place. Then on its second repetition the other guitar joins midway through with an expressive harmony and it’s almost like the whole song is physically lifted higher. This melodic passage returns later in the song, and the track is brought toward its eventual close by a new soaring lead, first played solo and then in dual-guitar harmony. It’s gorgeous stuff, and it permeates the entire album.
Also contributing to the consummately melancholy aura of Endonomos is a real reverence for the instrument tones and moody atmospheres of classic doom metal. They mesh these sounds and ideas in with a death metal aesthetic for heightened potency. My favorite track is “Rejoice”, and it’s an excellent example of these concepts. Its main riff is a rolling wave of crushing doom with that characteristic tasty distortion but death metal running double bass in the drums beneath; the guitars are thick and sinewy but there’s still space in the mix and the sound feels almost spare despite the distorted mire. The production is distinctly modern but there’s some of that old school doom sensibility in it, nods to acts like Candlemass and early My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost in the gritty chunk of the guitars and their beautifully round melodic lines. Those despondent melodies that overlay Haidinger’s stygian growls color his darkly hellish lows with weeping blues and greens.
So much of the band’s expression is tied into the relationship between the pessimism and intimidation of the vocals and the way that they’re juxtaposed against those poignant, elegant guitars, but that doesn’t mean they can’t flatten you with gargantuan plodding death marches. The violence in those sorts of massively heavy moments, like the one in “Atropos” that appears at 2:47 and again later, is made all the more effective when it comes out of a lamenting passage of trudging exhaustion. Every bit of foreboding, overwhelming darkness is appropriately balanced by something beautifully sad. Endonomos is a journey, for sure, and a weary and aching one at that, but it’s one that’s so full of menace and yearning in equal measure that its 43 minutes are engaging and gratifying from start to finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re looking for something fresh but classic, a record that can both pull at year heartstrings and bludgeon your skull, Endonomos is going to hit the spot and more. This new project from Lukas Haidinger and company isn’t just one to keep an eye on; they’ve already served up a striking death/doom album that’s likely to stay in heavy rotation for a ton of fans.