Latin American metal is cruelly under-represented on the world stage, lacking the major label support of their European and North American counterparts. The exception to this seems to be power metal, with figureheads such as Angra and Hibria having emerged from Brazil’s urban jungles. A compatriot to these names, Endless has been limited by a spotty output of only 2 albums in around 20 years but their third full-length is now due and calls itself The Truth, the Chaos, the Insanity. Power metal though it is, drawing on the Europower formula, the riffy rhythm guitars land it somewhere close to Symphony X‘s prog-power.
Given Brazil’s power heritage I maintained an open mind as I approached The Truth, the Chaos, the Insanity, only to find that the salient question soon to be repeatedly asked was “how can prog-power be so dull?” It’s an energetic genre, oft reveling in its high tempo and enthusiasm. Yet Endless bend it to their lethargic will, leaving me with hopeless ennui after extended listening sessions. I have to lay much of the blame at the feet of the vocalist, whose passion is rivaled by that of an impotent tortoise. His dreariness infects much of its surroundings and on most tracks he just sounds bored. His tone reminds me of Russell Allen (Symphony X) except that his interpretation is devoid of any conviction. The verses aren’t so bad but when stretching himself for the choruses any depth deserts him as he goes beyond a range behind which he can throw any forcefulness.
The lethargic vocal performance is exclusively contrasted by “Save Me from Myself” and “Celestial Dreams.” These have vocal moments which actually feature compelling power. On the former, the choruses use a higher and more soaring style which sounds quite different from their stock vocals—I could be persuaded that it’s another member of the band chancing their arm given the difference. It works well, like a slightly less epic Kiske (Helloween). The latter has vocals which are more rough around the edge, with a little more confidence in their delivery. While the surrounding music still can’t be described as spectacular, the disparity between these tracks and the remainder is conspicuous.
Instrumentally, the largely lackluster vocals are compounded by the majority of the riffs which are adorned with synths of various types and consequently robbed of any heft. Most of the intros feature reasonably nifty licks but these are rapidly neutered by twinkly xylophones or tacky keys. It may sound cute to begin, especially where the verse vocals aren’t as bad, but by the end of the first chorus on almost all tracks my attention was doing all it could to flee the scene. Half an album’s worth feels like 2 hours; the full and excessive 63 minutes feels like 4.
If you needed further convincing that The Truth… is super-boring, it’s also highly formulaic. The obligatory symphonic intro gives way to 11 further tracks which all follow a verse-chorus structure, breaking for guitar solos prior to the third repetition like clockwork. This is fine if you’re a melodically-sound songwriter but these guys ain’t. The album slips by with one song sounding much like another and leaving little impact aside from the few cool introductions which cruelly stoke false hope.
More you say? The production is bad, featuring an industry standard DR 6 but sounding worse, with random popping and vocals which peak terribly. I’m unsure if I received a dodgy promo but this aggravating popping is ruinous; an early low-light is the calmer passage on “The Code of Light” between the chorus at 2:50 and the solo at 3:27. Otherwise, it’s mixed reasonably and the chuggy guitar tone is solid but this seriously detracts from an already-limited experience.
In all, there’s a lot wrong with The Truth…. While the overuse of keyboards, rigid structure and poor production may have been tolerable against some reasonable verses, it’s the deficient choruses which truly kill my recommendation. The vocals flatline any momentum and actively worsen my enjoyment in a genre which lives and dies by these heightened, passionate moments. If you dislike excitement, check this out!