ALBUM REVIEW: Endon scores an imaginary horror romance film on ‘Boy Meets Girl’

Boy Meets Girl

With an absolute lunatic on the mic and two dedicated noisemakers complementing on guitar and drums, Endon is a band whose extremity goes without saying. Three LPs, several EPs and a collaborative album with Boris speak for themselves. The Japanese quintet’s newest album foreshadows an unsettling experience just with its title. Noise rock veterans cannot fully prepare themselves for the hellacious nightmare landscape Boy Meets Girl harbors. Endon uses misshapen riffs, grinding harshness and inhuman shrieks to evoke the most disturbing love story ever told.

Boy Meets Girl
Thrill Jockey Records, Feb. 15

Essentially writing the soundtrack for a nonexistent horror movie about love, Endon goes for the jugular with unadulterated viscera. At the center of the album is the 11-minute “Doubts as a Source.” Even the shortened “single version” is uncomfortable, to say the least. The track sputters to life amid guitarist Koki Miyabe’s dissonant feedback and primitive sludge riffage. Drummer Shin Yokota leads into an uptempo bass and hi-hat pulse.

Out of the tempo change comes vocalist Taichi Nagura, whose performance can only be described as heavy breathing during rough sex. The “single version” ends right as the sultry huffing seemingly to culminates alongside the instrumentals—which turns out to be a climax—literally and figuratively—of crushing sludge metal riffs.

Electronic demolition experts Taro Aiko and Etsuo Nagura, the latter being the frontman’s brother, pile layer upon layer of filth onto the seismic amp worship until it collapses into incoherency. Nagura saves his most spine-chilling caterwauls for the song’s final moments of off-kilter soundscapes and haunting choral samples, cementing the album’s centerpiece as an excruciating, yet engrossing listen.

Nagura’s vocals remain the most interesting aspect of Boy Meets Girl during the rest of the album’s shorter cuts. The title track starts out like My War-era Black Flag fed through a dishwasher garbage disposal, but his voice turns a fairly run-of-the-mill doom-rock song into utter insanity. The same happens on the primal crust-punk of “Heart Shaped Brain.” The battering drums and filthy guitars gallop away as Nagura embodies a werewolf being tortured to death.

“Born Again” and “Red Shoes” show how Endon’s music can both destroy and confuse. The former indulges in harsh noise debauchery, while the latter harks back to Black Sabbath’s most far-out numbers. Aiko and Nagura remain a vital component in both ends of the spectrum, reducing brains to mush while giving more atmospheric passages a constant feeling of claustrophobic dread. “Love Amnesia” has the best of both worlds, as haunting church bells and gurgling ambiance underscore caveman riffage. The song takes on a mutated disco feel as tortured screeches essentially another layer of piercing feedback, upending the simple structure to a terrifying effect.

For all its grating absurdity, Boy Meets World maintains a compelling element of no-frills rock and roll. The main riffs of both “Final Acting Out” and “Not for You” come straight from the traditions of ‘60s surf music and fuzzed-out Motörhead. Where so many experimental artists try to reinvent the wheel of songwriting, Miyabe and Yokota provide something to grab hold of while Aiko and the Nagura brothers generate the most unnerving racket possible.

Endon’s maddening creation comes from how they mutate semi-recognizable tropes, both musically and conceptually. Boy Meets Girl sounds like the name of a schlocky teen romance movie, but these guys take that concept and unspeakably violate it. The result is addictively distressing, with heavy riffs and glass-gargling vocals. For those who revel in the darkest recesses of extreme music, Endon scratches all the right itches.

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