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End Boss - Gig Review: End Boss @ Darkroom, Christchurch - 22/04/2023

22 Apr 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Tonight, I was supposed to be at Whammy Bar in Auckland, but that gig fell through, which led to me having a conversation with my wife which resulted in my flying home for the weekend so we could see End Boss together. Sara’s views on music and mine are pretty much diametrically opposed, but the lead singer of the Wellington band is the sister of one of her best mates, which meant that after more than 30 years together this would be the first time she had ever attended a metal gig. Tonight, it was part of the Darkspace12 festival, which is held in the centre of Christchurch with 12 bands across three different venues, Darkroom, Space Academy and 12 Bar. I headed over to the sound desk when I walked into the venue, and was amazed to see I knew the person behind it, Jack Orr from Elidi, whose album will hopefully be out later this year. To ensure everyone attending had the opportunity to catch at least something of every band the changeovers were both staggered and long, but it was quite a surprise to see that End Boss had 30 minutes to set up on what must be one of the smallest stages around.

The band are EJ Thorpe (vocals), Greg Broadmore (guitar), Christian Pearce (guitar) (both of Ghidoragh) and Nathan Hickey (drums – also in Beastwars) and they have built a reputation as one of the heaviest bands around. I included Punished as one of my Top 10 singles in 2022, but this was my first time catching them live, and I was really looking forward to it.

Greg and Christian built the feedback, then the riffs started, EJ got onto the stage, and we were off with Heart of the Sickle. The guys build a substantial bottom end, which is somewhat surprising given they do not have a bass, but EJ rises above it all with ease. She sings with no stress or strain, and while the stoner doom is building beneath with Nato using the kick drum to emphasise the strength of the riff, she lifts and creates a feeling as if we have dropped back 50 years to the heyday of this style of music. They sped up just slightly with Punished, with EJ now putting a bluesy rasp into her vocals, and I wondered again why a band this good was playing a venue this small. This is powerful stuff and soon all that existed was the riff, and the riff was good, and the riff was great, creating a groove which had everyone in the crowd moving as one. They were dropping a few new songs into the set tonight, and next up was the first of these, Inhalin’, which is not as overtly doom-laden, but is still based heavily on those monster guitars and the drums with the vocals being sung in a lower register than before. EJ can sing high, but she also understands the need for dynamics and contrast to drop down the register when she feels the need.

Their album, They Seek My Head, rightfully gained a lot of praise when it was released last year, and they returned to that with Becomes the Gold where again the speed dropped and the doom rose, but then they went into Feral which has much more of a staccato approach, with only EJ keeping it smooth and the increased tempo definitely had an impact on the crowd with plenty of heads banging away. Nail & Tooth is one of their shorter numbers, as well as being one of their most brutal, with the music being driven like pile hammers with crunching guitars and drums as one. I think there is a law somewhere that says if a guitarist is playing a Flying V then it gives them extra kudos on the metal league, and when the other is using a Gibson then it goes up even more.

The introduction to The Crawl is downright filthy, as if it had come from the first Sabbath album, with distortion overload and the speed dropped right back and EJ providing long-held notes with ease. They are not a band who run around onstage, and there was very little talking between songs, as this was all about the riff, and even the guitar solos were kept to a minimum. The guitars followed each other in the introduction to the next number, and then we were into the faster Lorded Over, with EJ being backwards as she put everything into the vocals. The title cut of the album was dedicated to EJ’s sister, Sheena, and it has a bluesy feel before bringing in some syncopated riffs which provide harshness and bite. Tonight had been about transporting the audience to another time and place which they achieved with ease.

The night ended with another new number, Cursed, and they certainly were aiming to make an impression as this had probably the most solid sound so far, with guitars that crunched, and drums being struck to match. It felt as if they were just warming up, and I could certainly have listened to another full set as this is one very powerful outfit indeed. Wellington are extremely lucky to have a local band like this, and I only hope they come up to Auckland soon as I really want to see them again. End Boss are a band not to miss.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

Releases

They Seek My Head
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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