The EP ‘Endpoint’ is the debut release of London black metal band Virophage, dating from the end of 2011. It consists of four tracks, spanning almost half an hour, of very accomplished, orthodox black metal. The opener, ‘Human as Infection’–comfortably the shortest of the four songs, though still clocking in at over four and a half minutes–is a clear statement of the band’s intent and musical outlook. Fast-paced and violent, it features ferocious drumming and searing vocals and sets the tone for the rest of the EP.

The EP actually features considerable variety across its four tracks, with frequent changes in tempo, and a couple of sections that almost venture into black/doom territory. These slower parts represent a pleasing change of pace, and serve to accentuate the aggression, particularly the blasting percussion, featured elsewhere in the recording. ‘Annihilation’ begins with a surprising but catchy bass riff that sounds almost like something from The Sisters of Mercy. Predictably for anyone familiar with The Watcher’s other projects, there are a number of memorable riffs and passages here that really stand out.

Indeed, the quality of this release comes as no surprise. The Watcher (Fen, Skaldic Curse) takes on duties for guitars and vocals, and Havenless’s drumming is also very impressive. The release is also notable for the quality of the bass lines, which to me seem unusually prominent and memorable for this style of black metal. They really add a great deal to the overall product.

This is a refreshing release, a singularly nasty and intelligent exemplar of misanthropic black metal. Every other metal band these days seems to want to put a ‘progressive’ spin on one genre or another, but ‘Endpoint’ provides an excellent example of a highly talented band channeling their ability to create a focused, but complex, expression of traditional black metal.

Having seen them play a few times, Virophage’s material translates very well into a live setting. It is perhaps strange, considering the quality of the material and the pedigree of the band, that they have not yet attained more recognition. This will surely come with time, and I’m very much looking forward to their next release.

8/10

Band page here: http://www.facebook.com/virophage

Originally published on my http://www.blog.co.uk blog on 2012-11-04

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