Balancing airy, soulful vocals against a hard-boiled instrumental onslaught is something that sludge and doom metal have spent the last few decades trying to perfect, but it's a tough combination to pull off convincingly. Somehow, New Zealand's End Boss makes it look easy: lead vocalist E.J. Thorpe delivers a nuanced and dynamic performance that slips around the band's sludgy and single-minded riffs as if they aren't coming down with the force of a thousand-ton truck. Their upcoming album They Seek My Head isn't minimal in any sense, but it retains an impressive focus on punishing riffs and electrifying vocals with no need for filler. Yes, it's been done before, but I think that most of the time bands try to play it a little bit safe, and End Boss dares to venture beyond the point of no return. The result is a harmonious contrast that makes the band's kinetic impact stronger and their thoughtful messages cut deeper. Hear for yourself: we're premiering the opening track "Heart of the Sickle" below.

...

...

Each guitar line in "Heart of the Sickle" is as precise and straightforward as it can be, with just enough notes to commit itself permanently to your memory while doing its best to punch through the brain entirely. These hypnotically persuasive grooves serve as a backdrop to Thorpe's vocals, which skirt around the song's meter and seem to shimmer in the steam coming off the beefy low-end assault. Growled vocals also make an appearance, serving more as a texture than a lyrical vessel and reinforcing the stoic, cyclic sense that the band's instrumentals give off—again, notably in contrast to Thorpe's expressive performance. Like with the rest of They Seek My Head, "Heart of the Sickle" demonstrates the still-honestly-untapped potential in taking heavy music outside its comfort zone.

Vocalist E.J. Thorpe comments:

The lyrics are an apocalyptic warning to humanity of smite created by our own hands. The trajectory we're on, climate change and nuclear war are very real threats that no amount of wealth could protect us from.

...

They Seek My Head releases April 8th, 2022 via Rough Peel Records.

More From Invisible Oranges