I did some quick research on Durham, UK in preparation for this review of End Reign’s Suicide Collection, featuring the band's compiled releases over the last several years, and was greeted with a ton of tourist information regarding lovely coastal strolls and picturesque castles. I did, however, also come across a nearby mining museum appropriately called Killhope. This is where I imagine End Reign perform their brand of crusty, dark hardcore; deep in the dusky, dusty bowels of a subterranean labyrinth savaged of its precious metal and left dry, now just a series of cold tunnels waiting to implode under the weight of the earth above. I can safely say the music contained in Suicide Collection is heavier than all those layers of rock and soil above the mine. I won’t say that being in an End Reign mosh pit is more dangerous than being a 19th century lead miner, but the two could be a draw.
Witch Hunter Records has put Suicide Collection together in preparation for a new LP from End Reign expected later this year. The track listing is chronological, starting with the newest tracks first. The opener, “Sacrifice,” is a nasty cut of blackened crust and offers a sneak peak of their new material as the sole demo from the upcoming record. It’s manic and razor-sharp and single-handedly creates buzz on its own merit. The rest of the album, gathered from self-released demos, split albums, and EPs, is consistently awesome, proving that End Reign is not some flash-in-the-pan hardcore group lucky enough to hop on the hype train. Release to release, the material is reliably ornery and absolutely bruising. This music will never, ever wake up on the right side of the bed, and it’s very interested in sharing it’s bad mood with you as loudly as possible. If you’re like me, you’re happiest when you’re listening to others in a bad mood.
Other highlights include the sludgy re-recording of “Release the Wolves,” the versatile ripper “Azrael,” and my personal favorite, “Dream Eater.” Starting with a clean guitar intro that lures the listener into an apocalyptic doom riff, “Dream Eater” mutates into a d-beat thrasher before settling back into a grimy hardcore stomp. When End Reign play at their fastest they remind me of Young and in the Way, another group of misanthropes who make blisteringly heavy music. End Reign leans more into the hardcore camp than punk however, with fist-pumping tempo shifts and chugging breakdowns joining the crusty fray, and use a wider variety of stylistic approaches to shape their songs. Occasionally a riff overstays its welcome (like in “Horror” and “The Freeze”) but even these songs finish strongly after they splinter off into faster paced directions. Geoff Cairns’ vocals sound like they have been scraped raw and now only pure, primal rage remains. You can’t teach or fake the sort of passion on these songs, they feel totally, and terrifyingly, genuine.
I’ll be impatiently waiting for the new End Reign LP to surface, listening to Suicide Collection and urging others to do the same. This collection makes you feel grimier than the black soot and mud covering the original Killhope miners. Forget oil, this music is the real black gold worth digging for.
Check out their entire discography here: http://end-reign.bandcamp.com/
Pre-order the Suicide Collection tape and keep track of the upcoming LP over at Witch Hunter Records: http://witchhunterrecords.bigcartel.com/product/end-reign-suicide-collection-tape