While it’d be easy to look at this and proclaim the raw, smoke filled edginess to be equal to that of early Black Sabbath or Ozzy, that would actually be a huge disservice, as it only really covers a miniscule amount of what makles up Endless Void‘s sound. “RIP / March of the Dead”, for example, has that early doom haziness to it, though a bit on the darker side of an early Candlemass recording as far as atmosphere goes, all the while laced with more of a Metallica edge as far as guitar technicality goes. The vocals maintain that cleaner traditional stoner metal approach with a hint of attitude to the riffs reminiscent of The Sword, but there’s no denying the authority filled thrashier grooves of the aforementioned legends present throughout to give the surprisingly lighter sounding effort a subtle bulkiness that immediately sets it apart from the rest of the bands in the field in just one track.
Of course there’s “Spiritualistic Medium” which, in all rights, does reflect that Ozzy Osbourne-era musical tone in a number of ways. However, this one carries enough of an eighties rock vibe to it similar to Dire Straights or your choice of MTV friendly glam rock bands, the latter especially in the guitar solo just past two-and-a-half minutes in, to really give the song it’s own voice among the gritty side alleys of that time period without the fashionable sex-crazed overtones. Meanwhile “Bereaved” has a fairly upbeat atmosphere with an infectious chugging main verse akin to ZZ Top, while the trudging chorus brings a sudden sense of dread to the mix, as if a calm before the storm of battle. It’s an interesting polarization within the performance that does help amplify the buried war-theme in the background hooks and guitar solo that might otherwise be overlooked if not paying attention.
It isn’t until you reach “Apparitions & Undertaker” that the Metallica-grade edge makes a return. In a way, this song is sort of the early Ghost of the album. While that band’s first full-length adopted the sound of Blue Oyster Cult, here we find Endless Void digging into the realm of King Diamond, sharing similar hooks on par with those from Andy LaRocque on and around the album Abigail. This, in turn, adds a hint of the occult, an element kind of suggested to exist through the release in a way devoted listeners can pick up on. The main problem is that this is all stopped abruptly thanks to a quick fade at a moment that it seems the song is going to escalate a little more, all to give way to traditional sixties organs for no reason other than a poorly executed climax to an otherwise phenomenal EP.
From what I’ve gathered from other reviews, Apparitions does seem to end with “Apparitions & Undertaker”. However, the copy I was sent (which was a CD-R in an orange paper sleeve) included a fifth track called “Stars in the Sky (single)”. There is a slight difference in this track compared to the other four, as it sounds a little more crisp and not as hazy or analog. But, since it’s on this disc, I’ll comment in saying it is a bit reminiscent of the opening song “RIP / March of the Dead”, though has a little more range in the vocals. This is probably thanks to the echo distortion being toned down, not tomention being a bit lower in the mix, almost behind the instruments compared to the other four tracks. Thankfully these elements don’t diminish the smokey, stoner laced traditional doom metal sensations, and it remains just as engaging as the others, though a bit on the familiar side with the EP’s opening track.
While many will immediately write off Apparitions as yet another Black Sabbath clone, a summary more and more bands seems to be proud living up to or basing their sound upon, Endless Void really does try to give itself a unique voice and, well, it’s achieved with the greatest of ease. James Owen takes this solo project to heights many have tried and failed miserably at after years of existence, and really should be commended for everything he achieves on this four/five song EP. The only problem I can forsee is that the material might become repetitive over time across future releases, as pointed out with my feeling “RIP / March of the Dead” reminded me of “Stars in the Sky”. However, after hearing the quality of the music here, amd the amount of variety, I’m confident this won’t be that big a problem. Sprawled across many different iterations of rock and metal, Apparitions is a fantastic display of musical prowess and atmosphere that doom metal fans will immediately eat up. And, with many labels nowadays giving self-released material a legitimate pressing, hopefully one day this EP will be available in a much broader sense, or even get the analog treatment it rightfully deserves.