June 1, 2020 Currents – The Way It Ends (Album Review)
Searching for meaning, offering gut-wrenching emotion and pulverizing your eardrums, Currents delivers The Way It Ends on Friday, June 5th, 2020, via SharpTone Records.
Formed in 2011, Connecticut’s Currents first attacked listeners’ ears with 2013’s Victimized EP and 2015’s Live // Lost EP. As they worked hard to cement their line-up, the Death-infused Metalcore outfit found themselves signed to SharpTone Records and delivered their debut full-length, The Place I Feel Safest, in 2017. Earning the East Coast quintet tours with the likes of August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, We Came As Romans, Fit For A King, Born Of Osiris, and more, the album also allowed the young band to display their growth as musicians.
For 2020, Currents—Vocalist Brian Wille, Guitarists Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi, Bassist Chris Pulgarin, and Drummer Matt Young—are back with the direct follow-up to 2018’s I Let the Devil In EP, the crushing The Way It Ends. Much like its melancholic 2017 predecessor, the band’s 11-track sophomore release expands their sonic profile as they explore the issues with our world and ourselves, as well as pausing to raise philosophical questions.
Produced by ex-For Today Guitarist Ryan Leitru (Sleeping Giant, Your Memorial) and the band’s own Wiseman, mixed by ex-Periphery multi-instrumentalist Adam “Nolly” Getgood (Devin Townsend, Animals As Leaders), and mastered by Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Issues), the collection takes what the Connecticut crew did on their debut to the next level, offing pure brilliance this time around.
The Way It Ends opens on the emotional guitars of “It Was Never There,” a track filled with atmospheric synth and beautifully glittering keys that are intended to contrast Wille’s desperate loss of hope (“I’m dying to know / What it’s like to live a life without the fear of being shut down”). This sets the stage for the infectiously brutal sludge of “A Flag to Wave.” A search for purpose and identity, this banger longs for something more, providing an anthem for the lost and hopeless.
If for some reason its predecessor wasn’t heavy enough, “Poverty of Self” goes for murderous tones that perfectly relay the track’s societal commentary on corruption, division, and class struggle; offering thoughts on the predatory nature of those that are willing to take advantage of and exploit the downtrodden. Next, “Monsters” detonates before meandering into more radio-ready verses that are offset by cacophonous guitar squeals and Wille’s frustrated growls. However, seemingly to counter this, lofty synths create a melodic moment in “Kill the Ache,” a track that, with its poetic approach (“The loneliest dreams I have / Appear when I’m awake / With a smile on my face / I live to kill the ache”) and phenomenal clean vocal delivery, displays the band’s diversity.
Continuing to expand their soundscape, they go bold with multiple layers for the languid “Let Me Leave,” one the album’s more personal offerings. Then, the all killer, no filler collection continues with the reckoning of “Origin” (“And though the rain grows heavy / Our tears will never dull the flames”) that flows perfectly into the brutal stomp of “Split.” Meanwhile, combining massive melodies and some spectacular moments from Pulgarin, “Second Skin” provides a soaring look at an overwhelming crisis of identity.
As the album begins to wind toward a close, more beautifully-crafted synth work sets a mood in the ballad-esque “How I Fall Apart,” a look at the inner struggle that sits at the heart of mental health. Loneliness (“Now I know that I’m all alone / And nobody will come to save me / This is how I fall apart / All alone with these nightmares in my head”), self-induced solitude, feeling buried and hopeless, these self-defeating thoughts provide the perfect complement to the struggle presented in “Second Skin.”
However, their grand finale comes in the form of “Better Days,” which begs you to consider: “Do you ever want to waste away recounting better times? I’m with you; Is this all we have left to live with?” Summarizing everything that has come before, and the discussions raised throughout The Way It Ends, it balances masterful, Prog-influenced guitar work with philosophical ponderings to create a flawless conclusion to a phenomenal sophomore disc.
Where are we meant to be, and can we break free to get there? Are better days possible in our chaotic world? Utilizing their mangling attack of infectiousness and heady, dark emotion, Currents raise questions, ponder our troubled society and personal struggles within its confines, all while offering ferocious tracks full of honest poetry. In this, the anger and the melancholia of The Place I Feel Safest is maintained throughout The Way It Ends, but it reaches a new height of maturity on their latest; one that shows the Connecticut quintet firing on all cylinders. For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Way It Ends 5 of 5 stars.