American EBM exponent Assemblage 23 (I say the word exponent in the singular because, despite the band-sounding name, A23 is actually just the work of one man, Tom Shear) is probably the least metal artist you’ll ever see featured within the pages of Sentinel Daily, but Endure is well worth a listen if your musical diet is more varied than strict platefuls of rivet ratatouille and steel soufflé.
Basically an at times thrilling melange of names like Depeche Mode, New Order, Ultravox and The Human League filtered through a cold, pulsing, surgically-precise prism of driving beats and synth-washed eighties-referenced nirvana, Endure will provide the perfect musical backdrop to your next black-clad entertainment soiree.
Final track December is a sort of apotheotic Assemblage 23 track; Banging bass drums prop the whole thing up, upon which are lavished scittery, dancing synths which provide the thrilling backdrop to Shear’s downbeat, melancholic intonations. He has the perfect voice for this kind of misery-drenched malarkey, all teary-eyed and full of morose sentiment, but oft times he’s singing over strangely uplifting music, bringing a sort of Miltonian terrible beauty to proceedings that is an absolute joy to be part of as a misanthropic bystander.
Afterglow is almost as good, almost bringing to mind those pioneering, One Second-era days of Paradise Lost (sans guitars, natch), whilst third track Bravery will bring goosebumps to the skin of any listeners old enough to remember the glory days of Ultravox and Visage, the dense orchestrations again providing a delirious backdrop to Shear’s mournful tales of loss and despair… ‘sometimes just waking up is an act of bravery’ he says as the synths caress your ears with their sheenful allure. It’s thrilling stuff, to be sure, although you might want a box of tissues and/or a bottle of gin with you for the album’s duration to act as an emotional crutch…
It’s not for everyone though, and if you come from the heavier end of the Sentinel Daily spectrum you’ll find precious little to comfort your ears within the grooves of Endure. But I’d strongly urge anyone else to get their lugs around this as soon as is humanly possible – it’s a damn fine listen and no mistake.