The Pacific Northwest is home to many of the front runners that compose the atmospheric black metal and dark folk scene in North America. There’s a distinct connection between the music and the forest that is shrouded by a blanket of heavy fog. With the End in Mind is a band that isn’t reinventing the wheel for their genre, but they are ensuring that the scene stays true to its roots. Originally self-released in 2016, the band has recently reissued Unraveling; Arising on vinyl via Sweden’s Temple of Torturous Records.
The album begins with the shoegaze intro “Sings the Sky.” After the first 25 seconds of almost silence that could have been deleted from the album, a well executed build up of operatic vocals draped over peaceful cymbal swells, lays the foundation for what promises to be an epic release. With the opening track clocking in at almost fourteen and a half minutes in length, With the End in Mind set no limitations on track length for the recording. The lengthy songs allow for the listener to experience a kaleidoscope of sound as the band unleashes an array of styles intertwined just enough to keep your interest.
Unraveling; Arising isn’t your typical black metal album drowned in crusty guitar tones and inverted crosses inlaid on the fretboards; it has much more substance than that. The guitars are more of a peaceful mid tone that are turned up just enough to still unleash black metal fury in a more intricate manner. The music is layered with ambient noise, classical guitar styles, and folk instruments. The balance of black metal and folk is refreshing to the ears and a welcomed change of pace from the over-saturated roughly mixed satanic black metal culture.
The second track, “Anguish Symmetry” starts with opening screams that could lead one to believe that a hardcore song is about to kick in, but then it doesn’t. That idea is put to rest as shock waves of blast beats and tremolo picking kick in your teeth. The pure aggression and depressive post-metal sounds reflect the lyrical content of crumbling societies followed by hopeful cycles of rebirth. A whirlwind of emotion is portrayed through a wall of sound that mimics the ups and downs of ocean waves. This is followed by the instrumental title track “Unraveling; Arising.” This is the low point of the album for me. A track that missed the mark in adding to the atmosphere. I love instrumental breaks on albums, but this didn’t add any substance.
Luckily, the album didn’t continue in a downward spiral and was followed up with what I would consider one of the highlights of the release, “From the True Source.” The song builds from a long intro of what I would call a western folk sound. The track then transforms into methodical, headbanging riffs that I would love to see in a live setting. The mood of this track is very straight forward. It’s the kind of song that I want to listen to while on a late night drive with the roads covered in mist. It creates a chilling atmosphere that will heighten the senses and leave you wanting more.
The grand finale, “Wheeling, Endlessly Wheeling” is my personal favorite on the album. At over 12 minutes in length, there is plenty of time to forge an ending that perfectly sums up the entire album. I couldn’t help but be reminded of fellow West Coast artist Worm Ouroboros for the first half of the song. Hauntingly clean vocals supported by heavy doom and shoegaze rhythms, it is exactly what you want from the style. To close out the album, With the End in Mind brings a harsh, fast paced, and well-executed black metal assault to the mix. Minus a few moments of repetitive material and a few filler riffs, Unraveling; Arising is a strong representation of the Pacific Northwest metal scene. I look forward to what the future holds for With the End in Mind.
– Corey Smith