Review: Black Ends — ‘Stay Evil’

The seasonal output and demo sharing from Black Ends over the past three years has given Seattle songwriter, Nicolle Swims, a flexible canvas to debut and re-release her ideas without the weight (wait) of laborious production. The frisson of excitement on 2019’s Sellout convincingly showcased Swims’ gunk punk as destined to channel a tangible, future revolution. 

Her new, four song EP, Stay Evil, scratches as her best joint work. Cover art and song inclusion birth a unity skimmed and hinted on from prior Black Ends’ singles and demos. Joined again by Ben Swanson (bass/keys) and Jonny Modes (drums), the trio rounds out a stentorian punk aesthetic. 

Bent and laser-like guitar notes and anticipatory drumming motors “Stay Evil” towards the edge of a gravelly drop off and follower “Monday Mourning” carries a similar pitch flub towards the cliff. Swims’ vocal flexibility (a gritty Sam Phillips) rides atop the band’s thrusty dynamic gutter sprawl.

Swim’s hypnotic abilities and range is captured on the haunted “Live in the Sea”. Guest drummer Maxwell Patterson’s timebomb of arrhythmic rolls, clanks, and splashes is a perfect accompaniment and metaphor to Swims’ mantra. Ender “Low” emerges as a squirmy folked anthem; part melodic, singable ditty with just enough weirdness, dings and dents. Swims and synth contributor, Eric Padget, float just above the late 90’s grunge, alternative charge.

Dedicated to George Floyd, Stay Evil isn’t directly political by spoken content, yet it’s activism fumes are impossible to ignore. With each song trickling into the next, Stay Evil is an easy 13 minutes of crust and savory inners. With thousands listening and watching, Black Ends are striding toward their biggest statement yet. 

(Pickup your copy at Bandcamp HERE.) 

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