Freya’s All Hail the End reminded me right away of Mastodon for some reason. It’s not really very much like Mastodon at all, but the first things that stuck out are the medium tempo sections and mix of melodic doom-y guitars over Karl Buechner’s mostly raspy vocals. Any comparison to Mastodon is a good thing of course, though they generally sound nothing alike. All Hail the End is about the End, one way or another, with a very small amount of Norse mythology thrown in. The lyrics are not overly preachy, not really like anything from Earth Crisis, but they are not random nonsense either. They are above average lyrics despite taking on a theme that’s used in metal like a shotgun in the hands of Dick Cheney. Snori Sturluson would approve, though there is no creation here, just the END from different views.
Brandon Flynn and John Sullivan have an interesting mix going on with the guitars. There are doom elements, though it’s not really doom, and there are thrash and metalcore elements. The melodic wanderings are a really strong point in the music and kept me interested when the vocals got a little repetitive. The sound is really well done, distorted fuzz, but with plenty of clarity so the chords never get lost in the mud. Joseph Murphy keeps the drums interesting and is not averse to laying back for the sake of pure weight, which works well for the music overall. Bassist Mike Lagrow does a respectable job holding down the bottom end, but nothing really jumped out at me, possibly because the meat of the bass sound seems low in the mix, the mids could be clearer. He’s more audible on tracks like Sons of Ymir (are they the frost giants?) and on the final track The End of the End, when he fills in between guitar chords. Karl Buechner is a very recognizable vocalist, and listening to Freya you can tell it’s him; however this band is not Earth Crisis and to judge based on past experience would be a mistake. His range is rather limited, but that’s really beside the point for most of this music. There are some melodic vocals here as well, such as on The Guardian, which again reminds me just a bit of Mastodon. He does manage to change it up enough to not sound like Jamie Jasta the entire time, which is good as these tracks are longer than expected from Freya based on previous recordings.
All Hail the End is one of those albums that draws you in if you are in the mood for it. Patience is required for some tracks, but there is plenty in the way of hooks provided by the guitars and the lyrically content to keep even the most twitchy amongst us interested for at least a little while. This is not Earth Crisis, this is not even the previous Freya work, it is the next evolution of the band and it is definitely headed in the right direction.
1. The Light That Rivaled The Sun
2. The Wanderers
3. Human Demons
4. Labyrinths Of The Ant People
5. The Guardian
6. Iron Locust
7. Deities Of Wrath
9. Sons Of Yamir
10. Choosers Of The Slain
11. Into A Wasteland
12. The Remnants
13. The End Of The End