Artist: Ends Embrace
Album: We Will Never Die
Country: United States of America
Written by Aaron Michael Kobes
Following the inaugural EP release, Requiem For Death, the one-man blackmetal project known as Ends Embrace, created by Ryan Silas, is back after just nine short months with a full length album entitled We Will Never Die. This effort draws heavily on Silas’ experience as an Indigenious American, in what feels like a juxtaposition of controlled meaning, and vindicated emotional letting; all of which may serve as a reflection of his view of the world and how he and his people fit in it. This is witnessed in the sampling of an Indegenious speaker bookending the track “As Time Comes To An End”, starting by stating:“It’s not a negative thing to know that there will be great changes…nothing stays the same“, and ending with “most of us believe that the spirit world is everything”. The track then falls off into a pregnant silence before giving birth to more frantic tracks such as: “The Return ” and “We Will Never Die”. Do not make the mistake however, that the preceding tracks of this effort lack anything of note, or substance, as Silas himself stated in an interview with the La Costra Negra podcast that We Will Never Die is about; “…being Native American” and that “…we are not going anywhere, you can’t destroy our culture”.
The album begins with “Scorched Earth”, previously released as a single in early August, and the track features samples of an isolating wind rustling as Indigenous flute begins to play hauntingly. This cuts to a more typical black metal intro riff with accompanying percussion. What is atypical however, is Silas’ vocals coming in at the 1:30 mark after a small bridge with an elongated scream that rips the track in half with sheer brutality that refuses to let up throughout the entirety of the album, giving it its central focus. The track then ends much as it begins, with the wind coldly blowing, reenforcing a solitary loneliness that seems to be the aftermath of the brutality of which the lyrics hint, and still Silas trudges onward. While what give the vocals such an intense quality is partially the lo-fi effect that is reminiscent of the early black metal days of Darkthrone, an obvious influence on Silas’ work, the lion’s share of the heavy lifting is due to the emotional content that is explored lyrically throughout the album. For instance, the track “Internal Scream” blisters with thrash-induced blast beats with a doom-style breakdown towards the end that supports Silas’ vocals as it simultaneously accents their content with verses such as: “Force me below the surface, Palms dig in, Pulling me under,Struggling to breath, Self hatred, Rages, within me, It never ends….As my life ends, I struggle to breath, My soul leaves me body, Death welcomes me home, Still haunted, By these memories, My death did nothing, To end the pain”.
The emotive power then lies in having a base concept of who Silas is, and where he comes from. That the listener may think of such Indigenous tragedies as the Trail of Tears, or the more recent atrocity uncovered by the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc and Cowessess First Nation peoples in Canada, a subject of the closing track, and not be able to distinguish any particular gruesome one, may be the point to the lyrics vagueness of details. This goes beyond the prototypical misanthropic lyrical content that so many black metal bands raise their flag to, and gives the listener a rare view of one’s often painful journey towards perspective and place finding within one’s culture that has been systematically eradicated and contemporaneously been the subject of a continued oppression that has been intergenerational my inherited. This then gives Silas of Ends Embrace, not only a pallet of raw emotion from which to paint from, but a unique retrospective that strikes to the core of the origins of black metal; and should be viewed as a truly great and authentic edition to USBM when one views it in context of the foundational concepts of early black metal, all of which Silas is the living embodiment of. The closing track, and the best of the album, “The House of God Burns”, gives credence to this in its opening sample of news coverage of the recently uncovered children’s graves discovered at antiquated assimilation schools in Canada. What follows is an almost militaristic blasting tempo of snare snappings, with a funereal guitar melody accompanied by Silas’ vocals howling in opposition. Halfway through, the tempo abruptly changes to a thrashing pace, that is only broken up again by the harsh drum beat that now feels more like blasts from rapid gun fire letting loose another atrocity, as screams, reminiscent of countless tragedies, pronounce the final lines “Always Remember, Those who fought, To keep, Us safe, Our culture lives”. With an artist like Silas armed with a project like Ends Embrace it is clear that he is not going anywhere, and his is one that can’t be destroyed, much like the culture he hails from.
Listen to and order the album below: