The Wretched End

Ominous

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If a headbanger is best known for a particular type of metal, that doesn't necessarily mean that he/she is going to perform that type of metal exclusively. Take Samoth, for example. The Norwegian guitarist is best known for his years with Emperor; he was a founding member of that black metal band. But Samoth's work with the band Zyklon wasn't black metal in the strict sense; Zyklon's 2000s releases are best described as death metal with black metal and metalcore elements. And Samoth obviously isn't providing straight-ahead black metal on Ominous, the first full-length album by his band the Wretched End (which also includes drummer Nills Fjellström of Dark Funeral, In Battle, and Aeon fame, and lead singer/bassist/guitarist Cosmo of Mindgrinder fame). Ominous, rather, is blackened death metal with elements of thrash metal and metalcore; Ominous is more death metal than anything, although it doesn't cater to death metal purists any more than it caters to black metal purists. The 2009-2010 recording's doom-and-gloom/death-and-destruction themes are very death metal, but most of Cosmo's extreme vocals are not death metal's Cookie Monster growl so much as a cross between black metal's sinister rasp and metalcore and hardcore's tortured screaming. Ominous uses blastbeats (which are common in black metal), but there are also some gang shouts (which are more typical of metalcore and hardcore). So even though Ominous clearly falls into the extreme metal category, it is also clear that the Wretched End have no desire to appease purists of any sort. The biggest problem with Ominous is the fact that it is quite uneven; although the Wretched End have an attractive sound -- at least if one has a taste for really vicious, harsh metal -- most of the material on this 45-minute CD isn't very memorable. There are a few standout tracks (including "Zoo Human Syndrome" and "Numbered Days"), but Ominous isn't nearly as consistent as it could have been. Nonetheless, the Wretched End have potential, and headbangers who fancy more than one type of extreme metal would do well to keep an eye on them and see what transpires on future albums.

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