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Review: With the End in Mind - Tides of Fire
With the End in Mind
Tides of Fire

Label: Avantgarde Music
Year released: 2020
Duration: 47:26
Tracks: 3
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: July 11, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3/5 (60%) (5 Votes)

Cascadian Black Metal is an odd descriptor when you think about it. I know it roughly translates to a particular style of Atmospheric Black Metal popularized by bands from that region like Wolves in the Throne Room and, to a lesser extent, Agalloch, but it's such a narrow category that it often feels meaninglessly granular to bother distinguishing. Make no mistake, I enjoy the style quite a bit, but because it's so narrow, I think it's more likely to generate bands that do the bare minimum to qualify without doing anything to really stand out. Unfortunately, with their sophomore effort Tides of Fire, I think With the End In Mind make a pretty compelling case for that thought.

On the one hand, With the End In Mind hit pretty much every note you'd expect them to. They write long, heavily atmospheric songs that evoke misty, mountainous woodlands, they flirt with Post-Metal influences with the more atmospheric aspect of their sound, hell, they're even based in Olympia, Washington just like Wolves in the Throne Room. On the other hand, they're working in a subgenre that's narrow by nature, meaning they either need to economically add new elements to their sound or play the living fuck out of it to stand out, and they just don't pull off either one. Everything on here has been done dozens of times before by better bands, and the songs just can't generate enough interest to last as long as they do. Their best answers to stretching them out without becoming dull is shoving in some false stops before moving onto another movement, a trick that outstays its welcome by its second use, and the stretches of vaguely folky ambient sections, which are unoriginal and lacking in real sweep. This is most evident in the six minute middle track "May the Name of Truth be Fire", which is just a spoken word track with tribal drum beats and some dork trying really hard to sound intense as he reads off some poorly written speech that made me beg the song to stop about two minutes in.

I can't say this is a bad album, as it has a decent mood and works pretty well for background music. However, there's also an air of smug self-satisfaction to it all, and that pretension only helps to highlight the bog-standard songwriting and uninvolving atmosphere that makes them fail to stand out, even in a scene as small as theirs. You can skip this.

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