Endless Void - Apparitions - (4/10)
Published on November 18, 2017
Genre:Doom / Heavy Metal
Sometimes enigmas deserve to be unravelled, allowing their beating hearts to be exposed for all to see and, more importantly, to hit everyone between the ears from out of nowhere thus cementing their very presence from the moment the record starts to spin. In 2016 such a band made the leap from the upside-down to our earthly domain with a stellar demo followed by one of the best albums of this year. Sadly this statement cannot be attributed to the enigma that is James Owen and his near non-existent project Endless Void, a musical entity brimming with apparent ideas but lacking the wherewithal to execute them into something satisfying to quench those doom-laden thirsts; this incarnation of Apparitions does very little to turn heads rolling through the cemetery in the middle of the night – this is, as it were, more of an eye-rolling affair to say the least.
Anyone willing to pursue any trace of Endless Void’s thirty-two-year existence will be hard-pushed to find concrete evidence as Owen has chosen to rely on word-of-mouth and pre-internet modes of promotion to get his music out there. Though this casts an ethereal shroud over the project it is a rather foolhardy approach to releasing anything in the age of Bandcamp and YouTube unless aimed at puritans who tap solely into physical networks to seek new bands. This is especially true if the tunes in your wheelhouse do not really stand to measure: existing in various forms over at least the last half-decade, Apparitions features nine tracks (only two of which are new to this release) built upon decent yet underwhelming motifs played to the point of exhaustion, sounding either like they were butchered together in the mixing process or under the spell of someone very clumsily trying his hardest to purvey a moody atmosphere.
Drawing in influences from the proto and traditional era of doom, throwing in some hearty Thergothon vibes here and there, Apparitions has plenty to boast about on paper and should make for an exciting listening experience; sure enough, tracks like the instrumental ‘Doom Metal Superstar’ and ‘N.D.E./Inside the Dreamland’, though very repetitive, groove their way majestically along the airwaves concocting a hallucinatory darkness – the same can be heard in the NWOBHM-heavy ‘Stars in the Sky’ and the fluvial atmospheres of ‘Andromeda Poem’ building up to a monumental climax. What these high points have in common with the rest of the album is a nauseating drum sound so flat it makes some tracks too abominable to listen to; coupled with a frighteningly amateurish production (especially given the age of some of these songs), the rest of the album, including the noise-mongering ‘Spiritualistic Medium’ and the downright uninspired ‘Bereaved’, fails to leave a lasting impression that does not require a band-aid.
Perhaps all of this could be overlooked if the album maintained some sort of overall personality: it is one thing being built on singular components alone, it is another thing all together to exist without cohesion; besides the middle four songs, the rest seems like they have been hacked out of five separate organisms for some collective Frankenstein-esque creation. When nothing flows naturally with any resemblance to what came before it makes for a jarred listen from start to finish. That’s not to say the album should sound the same for forty-three minutes, but it should at least feel organic.
Sadly, this further development in Endless Void’s Apparitions seems to have missed the mark entirely. Plagued by an undeserved inferiority, the ideas flowing around Owen’s head would work far better than they do here if he allowed them to develop naturally. Perhaps it is also time he committed himself to leave the release as it is and focus on some direction for his ideas to follow. The components are there, but the connectives are not – and what could be an enigmatic force to be reckoned with instead feels like a train full of schoolchildren on a long journey: noisy and without any sense of order.