Aussie metal crew To An End long for the days when metal meant just that. Metal. Overamplified guitars, singalong riffs and guitar solos you could whistle, amped up choruses about booze and, erm, other entertainments, all wrapped up in a carefree uniform of hedonism and devil-may-care joi de vivre, and turned up to eleven. On their new album, knowingly titled Redefine, they vow to bring the metal – that kind of metal – back.
And, in parts, they succeed. But first you have to wade through the first half of their album; after a promising, portentous intro the band lurch forward into From Grace Into Demise, and thence spend the next fifteen minutes hammering away with a sort of everyman metal designed to embrace everyone yet unlikely to please anybody. It’s well executed, yes, but also ultimately faceless, identikit groove light that probably works well live but translates less well to the recorded medium.
The second part of the album, however, is something completely different. The band kickstart the record’s heart with the superb Hear No Evil, and then proceed to mix things up in supremely effective manner, in marked contrast to what’s gone before. Left Untold and New Prescription-Old Addicton are both massive sounding, ready for radio slabs of metal that would already be being lauded as classics were this band from Massachusetts rather than Melbourne; the irony being, however, that that they are the most ‘modern’ sounding tracks on the album. Nature or nurture? The age old question remains resolutely unanswered, again, but To An End definitely sound most at home on this kind of material – to these ears anyway.
A spirited stab at Faith No More’s Digging the Grave probably says more about where these boys are coming from than anything on the album delivered by their own hands; it’s executed with fire, passion, precision and respect, and the band sounds very comfortable within its sonic environs. They follow this with some superb trad metal in the shape of Open Season; this, undoubtedly is what we want, all Priestesque staccato riffage and big chorus heaven… there’s a big world of this sort of retro-hungry metal starting to form out there, and To An End prove here that they can mix it with already-established names like Neuronspoiler and Striker should they wish to.
Definitely a game of two halves, then, but there’s a lot to like on Redefine – certainly enough to suggest a bright future might be in store for the band. Well worth some of your time and, more importantly money. Especially ‘side two’…
Redefine is out now.