How To Get An Education:
One of the joys of the sort of music that Decibel Geek reviews is that not only do we get to enjoy some fabulous musicians but we get to learn things. Only in metal and prog would anybody have to google to understand either the band’s name or the album title (not too mention all the history we may have read up on to appreciate the lyrics in many songs in these genres). Being presented with Chicxulub by Endolith had me looking up both! Firstly the band name Endolith (the band is a three-piece from Norway) is a microbe that tends to dwell in or hang onto rocks. In the theme of the album, we as humans are just insignificant organisms in the greater scheme of things clinging hard to this rock known of course as Earth. “Chicxulub” is the name of a crater in Mexico caused by an asteroid or comet which caused the extinction of many animal and plant groups. The question is, of course, are we humans heading towards a similar ending? So with all that information, let’s talk about the actual music.
The album is a concept piece about the destruction of the dinosaurs… and possibly all of us… very soon. It starts with an orchestrated piece called “Grazing Herbivores“. It is a beautifully written piece, tasteful and atmospheric. It sounds like a piece from a movie soundtrack (I had images of Jurassic Park in my head during it). In fact, one of the things that impressed me most is the use of the orchestra. They are not there just to fill out sound or follow the riffs. Sometimes it sounds like the band are playing around the orchestra. According to information I read, the orchestra parts were recorded first which would perhaps be the reason for it sounding the way it does. “Bloodfiends” kicks in like a mule. With some tidy orchestration around the thunderous drumming of Roger Tunheim Jacobson. A mix of Meshuggah, Dimmu Borgir and the quirkiness of Between The Buried And Me, this is good powerful music which has a change of mood and pace at points as well.
In fact, there are several moments where the drums and orchestra work well together including on “Rex” which has choral sounding vocals at points. There is a hint of Devin Townsend in the way the voices come in. There is also a Dimmu vibe in the dark symphonics. “Ichthys” (a fish type creature, possibly based on fossil finds) was the first song released via a video and a belter it is too. It shows the different sides of what they do and highlights the orchestra (The Arctic Philharmonic) very well throughout. This track also allows us to hear the rough and smooth vocals of Frode Hofsey.
“Diseasons” is a quieter more reflective track. Or at least at times. The verses are mellow, the lead into the choruses are heavy and the choruses themselves are quite harmonious. I like the way the song has been constructed from beginning to end. Following on from that is “KPg Impactor” which is quite simply heavy and brutal sounding with a gargantuan riff (there are plenty of quality riffs courtesy of Erling Malm) which is surrounded by drum fills. This gets me headbanging and air drumming on every listen.
The title track is the truly outstanding piece on the album. At nearly 10 minutes long, they throw everything but the kitchen sink at it (or even in it). It opens with atmospheric noises of animal type creatures and forest sounds. This has strings, timpani, voice-overs, riffs and (no surprise) thunderous fast drumming. It builds to a loud crescendo till it basically implodes on itself! Possibly just like the earth then?
There is a cover at the end of the album, a pretty accurate (but heavied up) version of “Earth Died Screaming” by the wonderful Tom Waits. I rather liked it, and I recommend those who hear this via Endolith should also check out the slightly scarier and disturbing original.
Chicxulub is a fine album and those who like their progressive music to shred and kick like a mule but still have subtlety should find much to enjoy here. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and for me, it sets the stall for other prog metal bands to follow. It also shows how to use an orchestra/strings to good effect as part of the band, something not every band can do. Oh and yes it is also educational! Win, win!
Out via Rob Mules Records, the album can be purchased on all usual online sites and the album in vinyl form can be bought direct from here