Never End – The Cold and the Craving Review

I know promo sheets are all about hyping up the band. Hyperbole is basically in the job description, and I and my esteemed colleagues are largely immune to the declarations of paradigm shifts and best things since sliced bread. But every now and then, something so ridiculous comes along that I can’t keep it from you all. If I am to believe the sheet for Never End’s The Cold and the Craving, “…they’re brutal, melodic and technical all at once without ever being too much of one thing, which is impressive. The grind remains godhead, obviously, but the entwined emanations flowing from it –thrash, match [sic] rock, prog, hardcore, metal, grunge—never felt more potently distilled, dynamic or organic. [It] weakens the boundaries between Rock, Metal, Grunge, Hardcore, Metalcore, Doom, Stoner.” So basically, Never End play every single genre and you never need to listen to anything else anymore.

It’s funny how ‘everything’ kind of sounds like 00’s alt-metal with extra shots of groove metal and metalcore. Never End peddle music of simple, straightforward structures, built on simple hooks. As is tradition in this style, the riffs are second-class citizens whenever the vocals show up, but in between, the powerchord laden hooks are catchy enough to fill the time. The vocals are evenly split between a coarse core shout and clean vocals that recall ye olde pop-punk, especially on “Building Shields” and closer “Driven So Far,” which might have gone over well with the Hot Topic clientele. Most of the remainder is a little heavier than that, reminding more of Lamb of God or, on occasion, Five Finger Death Punch.

Instrumentally, the band does fine for the style. The hooks are catchy enough, and if music like this was part of your gateway, you might get a nostalgic twang once or twice. In a notable change from their main inspirations, Never End does not eschew guitar solos entirely, and they’re a welcome diversion even if not exceptional in composition. One thing I often appreciate about bands like this is their enthusiasm, and Never End is no exception. The production chips in here as well, giving an extra kick with the boosted bass and drums, and though the mastering is mostly industry standard, this part of the mix at least makes for a lively record.

Much of this goodwill is thrown at the wall and shot, however, by the vocal department. The core shout can’t seem to sustain a note, and compensates by sliding the pitch up or down on every single line, which quickly becomes both exhausting and annoying, especially on “Scapegoat” where the music sheet might as well be a sine wave. The clean vocals sustain better, but are false more often and lack power, plus the enunciation is so poor it sounds like Simlish1 half the time. Between the annoying shouts and the limp cleans, the album is most tolerable when the vocals shut up entirely.

The Cold and the Craving is pretty much the definition of a 1.5. It’s poor in concept and mediocre in execution, largely due to the unfortunate vocals and derivative, outdated songwriting. It’s not a total loss, because it does sound like an album with heart. Never End poured a lot of passion into this record, and that is certainly audible. But it’s not enough on its own to make it something I can recommend to anyone but the most die-hard 00’s radio metal nostalgic.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Brutal Records
Releases Worldwide: September 3rd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. A gobbledegook language spoken by Sims that sounds like unintelligible English.
« »