Endseeker – Mount Carcass Review

When I pluck a festering slab of death metal from the fetid pit that is our promo sump – a rare enough occurrence for me – the last thing I expect to be presented with is a political message. No doubt those more learned in the ways of death, will point me in the direction of many a OSDM band that deals in heavy politics but my brain does not connect the genre with current affairs. Hamburg, Germany’s Endseeker, however, do just that on their third record, Mount Carcass. The five-piece have always been very political people, apparently, but unlike on 2017 debut Flesh Hammer Prophecy or its 2019 follow-up The Harvest, this time around, “with all the shit going on in this world and the sheer amount of things going in a terribly wrong direction we felt the need to let all of the frustration out.” Is there any substance to the Endseeker manifesto1 or is it all just carved from empty words?

Endseeker play a fairly straightforward brand of Swedeath, with their Entombed lineage plain for all to see. Compared to their previous outings, however, Mount Carcass is a simpler, more stripped back affair, that dials up the melodic quotient and adds a swaggering groove that was hinted at on The Harvest but is now brought to the fore, courtesy of bassist Torsten Eggert. Drummer André Kummer keeps up a furious rhythm throughout dabbling in d-beats, as guitarists Ben Liepelt and Jury Kowalczyk trade buzzsawing riffs. Vocalist Lenny Osterhus barks and growls his way through his lines, recalling Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts on Those Once Loyal in his delivery.

The mountain of Endseeker’s title is a reference to the queues of people waiting in the death zone on Mount Everest for their moment at the top of the world, which doubles as a metaphor for capitalism as a whole apparently. This is the fairly simplistic message that pervades the title track, while “Merciless Tide” is a commentary on the growth of ridiculous, yet widespread, conspiracy theories like QAnon. All of it is belted out with venom by Osterhus, just as are the classic blood bathed zombie numbers, such as album opener “Unholy Rites.” The album closes with an unexpected cover the theme of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, that opens with a leering melody reminiscent of a Pixies track before breaking into something that I have decided to think of as Swedeath power ballad territory, except it’s obviously an instrumental.

Mount Carcass is a compact record, coming in at just 35 minutes with nothing on it reaching the five minute mark. Even stripped back and shorn of bloat as it is, some tracks still manage to feel long on run and short on ideas. “Bloodline,” for example, sees Endseeker initially dishing up a very tasty, crunching melody and saw-edged riffs but it just runs out of steam by the second half, seeming to have its sting pulled and trudges slowly to its conclusion. The same is true of the title track, which slams into life with frantic d-beats and lightning riffs before gradually losing steam, despite a fun crust punk moment toward the end, which almost resurrects it. Part of this is, I think, down to Osterhus’ vocals. It’s not that they’re bad, they aren’t – he’s got a deep, guttural bark that works well with the music – but the delivery and intonation patterns remain largely unchanged and predictable across the record as a whole and, because he is prominent in the mix, it contrives to convey a slightly one dimensional experience. Then we have to come to the lyrics, which have all the poetry and complexity of Lamb of God’s Ashes of the Wake. 2004 me thought those were da bomb but 2021 me cringes at them and he does the same to some of Endseeker: “blood on my hands, blood on my face, blood on the knife, such a disgrace, it’s a dirty deed but has to be done …” (“Merciless Tide”).

With Mount Carcass, Endseeker has delivered a decent record, with some very good moments (“Count the Dead,” and  opening halves of “Bloodline” and the title track stand out in particular) but as a package, it left me a bit cold and occasionally wincing at the lyrics. I have no problem with politics appearing in metal but, if they’re going to, they need to be handled with a bit more deftness. There’s clearly a lot of talent in Endseeker, and the influences they draw on are solid gold, but Mount Carcass fails to come anywhere close to the roof of the (death metal) world.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: endseeker.bandcamp.com | endseeker.de | facebook.com/endseekermusic
Releases Worldwide: April 16th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. It’s hard to believe they can rival that of El_Cuervo’s preferred candidate, Count Binface, in the upcoming London Mayoral election.
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