“Dark. Loud. Stuttgart” is what’s written about End of Green. I’m not sure what image I’m supposed to have of Stuttgart other than a picture of urban Germany. I’m not entirely convinced about the “loud” part either as what I was listening to was a darkwave gothic production with similarities to Tiamat. Paradise Lost and Kingcrow also come to mind when listening to this. The progression is lugubrious but the songs are strong as they wistfully sing about “the dark side of the sun” and living life in misery.
“Void Estate” is End of Green’s ninth album and it shows in the precision of the structures. These sombre songs are never going to be laugh-a-minute but End Of Green present songs of finesse and evocative beauty. The melancholy of tracks like “The Door” is not gloom for the sake of gloom, but a catchy expression of moods. The vocals are clear and reflect a depressive state but are not depressive. The rhythm of “Head Down” sways like a gentle breeze and provides a comforting backdrop. It may not be loud but it is powerful. These are the sort of lyrics where people will be touched on a personal level and might say “have you heard the lyrics to this song?” and then quote them. There’s no doubt there’s magnetism in these songs. “Crossroads” has an upbeat rhythm and a lushness, which has a little bit of Dire Straits about it. Or REM even. So don’t expect any heaviness. This is expressive rock, never extreme but always appealing in its instrumental subtlety. No song is more subtle than “The Unseen”. Dark in content, it develops musically, bounces along and is uplifting. It’s easy to tell that some of the band members have connections with the German doom metal band Mirrors of Deception, but the colourful expression of moods outweighs the outpouring of a single genre. An exception is “Mollodrome”, which plods along and asserts itself in more of a doom-like way than the others. Colour invades the sad and steady “Worn and Torn”, courtesy of the guitar work. The picture develops powerfully, in fact more emotively and powerfully than any other song without the need for extremity. “Worn and Torn” is fluid and gentle, but massive in its warmth and impact. The patient pattering of the drums on “City of Broken Thoughts” reinforces the gloom but here the dreamy air is strengthened by not only the gentle rock riff by but by the unobtrusive sound of a symphony. It occurred to me as I listened to the sad and heart-piercing “Like a Stranger” that my impression of End of Green has transformed. Four years ago I reviewed the band’s album “The Painstream”, and while recognising many qualities in it, did not feel the emotive connection that I did with this one. In my review I drew comparison with an Austrian band called Mely, whose 2009 gothic rock, emotionally-charged “Portraits of a Porcelain Doll” is one of my favourite ever albums. “Void Estate” is in the same ballpark musically and atmospherically.
End of Green share their melancholic world here, and do it in such a way that a sense of human warmth radiated to me time and time again. The song structures seem simple, and accordingly they are all accessible. The depth is deceptive. In spite of the gloom, there’s always colour and comfort in “Void Estate”.
(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)