In these dark days, the last things you’d ever want to wish on a stranger is even more misery. There’s too much of it as things stand, and too many people willing to spread it around, but when it’s the fuel for truly dark works of art, it does seem like there might be something to the “no light without darkness” adage after all. Groningen’s Onhou already showed their bleak stripes on a cassette-only EP through Tartarus last year and their first full-length, rather than building on that template, just drags it further through the dirt.
Given that they feature members of Ortega amongst their membership, there’s already an impression of what Endling will deliver, cemented in part by those first two recordings. While it certainly emphasises vast, sprawling vistas that bring to mind grey wastelands that haven’t seen sun nor rain in decades, on closer inspection the picture they paint is filled with detail, from subtle shifts in pace to delicate synths that help to flesh out the towering walls of sludge that the album is built around.
For a genre founded on atmosphere, having songs move past the ten-minute mark is all but essential, but Onhou make their three massive constructs seem as brief as a passing thought. Each composition has so much squeezed into its frame, so many passages and shifts in emotional weight that time no longer exists as a consideration. Neither rushed nor bloated, it crawls from post-metal grandiosity to the ferocity of Weedeater on a moonshine binge with a sense of delicious deliberation.
To call this promising would be an understatement… bands like Onhou are a beacon of hope that heavy is, and always will be, relevant…
Though opener Dire demonstrates this principle most impressively with its sweeping scale, March/Retreat perfectly takes the baton and runs with it straight into a mire of cosmic fury. Drums pound like cannon fire as a rust-flecked bass born in some derelict sub-basement carries all-too-human belligerence aloft and as the final riffs approach, all the listener can really do is nod their head in time to the beat and in silent agreement with Onhou’s hopeless outlook.
That might leave you to think that Silence might deliver some semblance of light but like any good morality tale, there is nothing to be learned from its crushing sonic pressure, except that pressing the needle back onto the disc afterwards might be better than venturing back into the world. To call this promising would be an understatement – in a scene that sometimes seems bereft of original thought, bands like Onhou are a beacon of hope that heavy is, and always will be, relevant.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes