When first listening to Terminus by While Sun Ends I was on the train. In lieu of much exciting to say about the record itself, I will begin with this. It was on a Euro-trip where I visited a number of central European cities. I had the pleasure of making the journey between Munich (Germany) and Salzburg (Austria), a route which takes you through the beautiful Bavarian Alps. These travel days were substantially stop-gaps but this ride was a highlight of my trip, as we sped through a plethora of emerald hills, past azure lakes, observed grand mountains and stopped at quaint villages with lots of men whose names I presume to be Klaus. All of them. I paint this picture as that part of the world is extraordinary. The same cannot be said for Terminus. It is, indeed, extra-ordinary. So banal that I had to produce this tenuously-relevant lede just to fulfill a minimum word count.
I don’t mean to say that there is nothing worthwhile to While Sun Ends however. There are good aspects to the music and it is quite impressive at a quick listen. Describing themselves as progressive or post death metal, their sound is intricate and djent-y but with strong melodic sensibilities to counter-balance their heaviness. The chugging is appropriately winding and results in a couple of nice riffs, notably on “Tritogenia” and “Cycles.” Bolstering these aggressive parts are raspy growls and hardcore-style shouts, both of which are executed well. Fleshing out the melodic parts are female cleans which are occasionally layered over heavier passages but more frequently alongside calm keyboards and cleanly picked guitars. These two halves inter-twine to reasonable effect, rendering appealing compositions of heavy and light. In sum, the tools are essentially here.
But in much the same way that a mechanic’s mere ownership of a shiny spanner and a huge wrench has little impact on the quality of your car’s repairs, competent individual components do not necessarily contrive to produce a satisfactory whole. The nice bits are far outweighed by overwhelming mediocrity. The opening two tracks stand out on account of them being the opening two tracks but beyond these there’s so little to reward your time and effort. My notes actually read “scrabbling for shit to say = not good” for the third track. Chugging riffs became largely indistinguishable and I couldn’t recall any particular moments, let alone songs, by the conclusion. While I’m now more familiar through the listens I’m obligated to undertake for this review it’s still entirely unremarkable.
Rounding out this package of inconspicuousness, the production is exactly as you would expect it to be on a djent-y record. While I feel there isn’t a lot you can do with dject to make it sound fresher or more natural (indeed, that may not be the point) the portions with clean vocals and airier melodies would definitely benefit from better dynamics to distinguish them from the heavier parts. Moreover, the 120kbps promo copy with which we were supplied flops for depth of sound. I’m mystified as to why bands or their labels still do this – while there is a flawed argument for dynamic range compression, there is literally no good reason why one would not convert their music to a higher bit rate file. It’s not as if there isn’t enough space on CDs these days. Even if this isn’t the case for the full release I can only review what’s presented to me.
Terminus really isn’t bad and may initially deceive you. Maybe it was the great train ride romanticizing the experience for me. But let the tracks run their length and there will be nothing to recall you. I was ultimately left bored with a whole lotta nothing to show for it at the end. This relatively lackluster Summer for metal continues.