WAY TO END are back nearly four years after their debut album ‘Desecreated Internal Journey’ and it seems that after all this long time the band returned more focused and mature than ever. With the addition of Vaerohn of PENSEES NOCTURNES as a permanent bassist and vocalist the band created a musical delirium entitled ‘Various Shades of Black’, progressing and regressing further into the realms of experimentation.
From the album’s very first moment, WAY TO END present their very own approach on black metal, an interesting juxtaposition of its dark and violent quantities mixed in a classical, jazz influenced experiment, applying clearly the avant-garde recipe in the most obvious of ways. The music is characterised by intense variations between the lead and rhythm parts of the guitars, the guitar melodies in particular offer a classical inspired outcome, resulting in a very varied product. A variety that is also notable on the vocals as well (that are shared by all the members of the band), which are balancing between high pitched black metal shrieking, to enraged screaming, even growling that enhance the blackness even more. Another significant ingredient in WAY TO END’s music is the (ghostly) choral parts and clean vocal cadences, distinctive and theatrical, that add greatly to the album’s atmosphere, strengthening its ambiences . It is clear that WAY TO END took every exaggerated direction and used every easily or uneasily interpreted detail to produce agitation, tension, exuberance, and grandeur.
As we further submerge into the album’s depths, the highly characteristic melodies that so warmingly greeted us in ‘L’Apprenti’ make their appearance even more frequently, introducing a grotesque vibe with their disturbing high pitched tone and frantic playing. The continuous transitions from the spinning riffs to the clean guitar passages create a suspense as well, producing a certain musicality to the album, the classical and contemporary influences along with the 90s black metal ones are very distinguishable. One of the album’s highlights is ‘Vain’, which kick off ferociously in a more traditional black metal way, only to explode into an even more intense outbreak, rich in blastbeats yet managing to persevere the ambient elements and atmosphere of the song. (Decay’s very efficient drum playing and constant rhytmic transitions are a notable aspect of the album as well). After a little acoustic breather, harsh and ponderous black metal tones emerge in ‘A Mon Ombre’ has that tragic feel, a melancholic vibe that traps the listener with every listen. ‘Au Fond d’un Verre de Poussiere’ is quite a return the the already used formula of ‘L’Apprenti’, with the arpeggiated melodies constructing the song’s backbone. Generally that aformentioned formula is used on almost every song and it get somewhat tiring at parts although this is what the band is precicely know for, even from their first album, the guitar playing, shifting effortlessly between styles, be it twisted black metal riffs, mellow acoustic strumming or melodies. The album’s closer is the self-titled song, a change from the French vocals that has been chosen as a farewell for this album. An eight and a half minute opus with jazz influenced drumming and clean guitar segments in the beginning of the song, an song with quite a trenchant (musical) edge as the whole album painted musically in various shades of black.
Coming into conclusion I have to add that ‘Various Shades of Black’ is a very significant release that is setting the band a level above their previous effort. It might not be an extremely heavy or aggressive release but definitely a highly artistic one, an avant garde, musical roleplay with a dark twist here and there to intensify the situation. Although the songs may seem hard to grasp at first glance and several listens may be necessary, your devoted time won’t be left unrewarded as this French circus will drive you straight to the centre of its chaotic show.