REVIEW: Desolated – The End [2016]


Artist: Desolated 

Album: The End


Have you ever been a prisoner of your own mind? Held captive to your own subconscious whims and self-destructive habits—where depression and anxiety slowly pick away at your sanity. Like any addiction or psychosis, it’s hell on earth to break yourself—to escape the clutches of your own psyche and live your life like a functioning member of society. If you’ve never known this feeling—a stranger to the feeling of being trapped by your own bad habits and self-loathing—then let UK’s resident masters of beatdown hardcore, Desolated, give you a crash course. Picking up where Disorder of Mind left off, The End offers daunting, harrowing—and of course blisteringly heavy—insight into the life of a man coping with a broken mind. Packed from start to finish with fight-inducing riffs, heavy grooves and bone-cracking breakdowns, The End is a psychoactive experience that sees Desolated incorporating their signature style of beatdown hardcore with sludge and stoner riffs to give it a distinct, dissonant flavor.

Instrumentally, Desolated have grown beyond even their more recent singles to include several more metallic influences among their already aggressive style of hardcore. Percussionist Tommy Defeliceis a dynamo behind the kit, kicking off “The Beginning” with a bold kick drum and monstrous, looming toms that erupt into a ferocious groove sure to send fists flinging in mere seconds. Defelice serves as Desolated’s steadily beating heart throughout The End, never showing off too much, yet still adding in quick, flashy fills where they fit—especially on “The Beginning” and “Relapse,” where the latter track sees his drumming at its most fun and bouncy, easily stealing the show. Defelice’s deep kick and resonant toms find their match with low, bouncy grooves from bassist Jake Marlowe. Especially in “Numb” and “Invasion,” where Marlowe’s bass covers every thud from Defelice’s kick drum in a meaty layer of grime, giving breakdowns an extra dose of crunchy punch, while giving Desolated’s more dreary and depressive passages a thick slathering of dissonance. When it comes to the source of the bulk of The End’s violence-inducing instrumentation, however, the listener need look no further than guitarists Drew Harper and Rich Unsworth. Harper and Unsworth take their fierce, fight-riff dynamic and add to it with some sections that sound as though they might be right out of Black Sabbath’s playbook. The instrumental “Out of Luck” is a great example—as the song is a soul-smothering dirge led by Unsworth and Harper trading off with a depressive riff that seems to weigh the listener down like fifteen cement blocks were suddenly attached to their ears. “Out of Luck” is an exception to Desolated’s general rule of fast, furious and fist-throwing beatdown mentality. “Invasion” is basically an anthem for all-out MMA combat in the pit, where “Olanzapine” and the titular “The End” are well-rounded displays of hardcore; complete with catchy riffs, fleet two-steps and grisly breakdowns aplenty.

Where Desolated may have added a touch of diversity and broadened their scope musically, Desolated’s vocal dynamic remains largely untouched—because, after all, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Where frontman Paul Williams adds to his range here and there throughout The End, a majority of his shouts and harsh screams remain much the same as heard in Disorder of Mind. “The Beginning” and “Olanzapine” are great examples of vocal diversity—where low and high screams (respectively) jump out of nowhere to sucker punch the listener firmly in the jaw. However, a great majority of Desolated’s full length album sees Williams dominating with an intense yell that does his lyrical prowess justice on two levels. One being his lyrics are truly intelligible, making it easy for the listener to understand what he’s saying—a plus given the fact that a majority of his lyrics are well above average for heavy music as a whole. The second being the way his vocals work in the context of the album’s theme: they truly sound like the raving barks and bellows of a man in mental distress. Especially the neurotic “Olanzapine,” or the thirty-second blitzkrieg “Withdrawal.” Where Williams’ vocals may be an acquired taste for some, his work on The End is without a doubt his best yet.

It’s rare to see a beatdown release follow a concept—or at least a concept that isn’t based around ass-whoopings. However, Desolated do it brilliantly, combining lyrical fluidity and intelligence with second-to-none instrumentation and enough mosh-inducing heaviness to send the Dalai Llama on a crowd-killing frenzy. The End is definitely short for a full length, clocking in shorter than some EPs, but where it may be wanting in quantity, it is overflowing with quality and diversity both. A contrast of the album’s two instrumental tracks is evidence enough: where “Out of Luck” is slow and sludgy, “Psychosis” is brief, blistering and intense—bringing the album to a close that will likely send audience members to a hospital. The entirety of The End seems built around bringing together a sound that is both mentally engaging and physically energizing; a goal Desolated readily achieve. With this talented Southampton quintet continuing their dominion over dissonant beatdown hardcore, one can only hope this isn’t truly The End for them.



For Fans Of: Vice, Drowning, Raw Dawg, Malevolence, Lionheart

By: Connor Welsh