Review: “Empty Ends” by AFAR

Founded in the Summer of 2017 around the area of Strasbourg France by members of Djinn, Peace Me Off and PIEDBOUCHE, Melodic Hardcore quintet AFAR released their debut EP¬†‘No Landmark In The Void’ after a year of finding their sound. After shows all around their native French territory, they got back into the practice room and then the studio to record a second EP entitled “Empty Ends”. Recorded, mixed, arranged, mastered at Kawati Studios by Benjamin Moreau and Jeremy Lemon with some additional work from Arco Trauma, it’s a 5 track, 30 minute affair…

… It’s an interesting notion to call yourself Melodic anything when you have a vocalist whose unclean vocals can shatter glass at 30 paces. But in truth it’s perhaps a more accurate description of the music itself, which offers a chaotic blend of raw Hardcore Punk and Post-Hardcore without any comprise. Some of the riffs are Norma Jean on steroids while others have more in common with the latest Glassjaw album. “Across The Mountains” is a fine summary for the sound of the EP as a whole, there are no heavier tones or high gauged strings use here, the whole fretboard gets a work out to within an inch of its life. “Deserved” occupies similarly relentless pursuit of chaos territory with some angular riffs and a few short bursts of breakdown. The rhythm section delivers good pacing and some how everything manages to hang together in a rollercoaster of a track. “Elephant Bird” changes the game with an epic wave of feedback laiden atmospheric build and progressive elemented guitar work in the opening three minutes. An ambient melodic passage then builds sonic waves of shoegazing quality and what you’re left with is a track that sounds like a modernized version of something from Pink Floyd. Creativity without limits makes it an strangely addictive track and when the vocals eventually appear after 7 and a half minutes they’re as ferocious as ever. The Jazz inspired bridge brings in the final verse and it’s easy to see how any of the ideas within the song could be developed separately into more songs.

Returning to a more conventional song structure with “Grave” which takes some inspiration from Birds In Row, it has a cleaner (that’s cleaner, not clean) vocal passage that makes the lyrics more comprehendible on the first few spins. It’s mid song false ending is a master stroke and there is plenty of melody within the brash Noise Metal sounds. Indeed “Ashes” could be a Will Haven track if they changed their guitar tones. As blistering a closing as you’re likely to hear anywhere, it has some of the most brutal vocal passages with a deeper tone found and some Dillinger Escape Plan metronomics thrown in for good measure. If you’re after something wild from wilderness, then this is one for you [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Across The Mountains
  2. Deserved
  3. Elephant Bird
  4. Grave
  5. Ashes

“Empty Ends” by AFAR is out now via Seven Years A Weak Records and available over at bandcamp

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