One of the difficulties of producing a list like this of my top releases of the year is that nineteen other albums and EPs have to share space with something as brutal, powerful and beautiful as Endon’s Through the Mirror. Placed next to this roaring monstrosity of an album, anything else is doomed to look weak, finicky and ineffectual.
The opening Nerve Rain wastes now time with a buildup, exploding out of the speakers from the first moment in a storm of thundering dums and high-intensity, multilayered drone. Nerve Rain’s minor-key guitar soundscape incorporates increasingly frequent stop-starts as it progresses, which enables a transition into the even more explosive Your Ghost is Dead, where vocalist Taichi Nagura finally unleashes his guttural grindcore growl, giving a suitably satanic voice finally to the sonic hellscape. There’s more going on in Through the Mirror than simply blistering noise-metal intensity though. The vocals in Born in Limbo and Postsex are a frenetic cacophony of voices, and the riffs, while undoubtedly heavy, are buried in a tornado of violently swirling effects. Meanwhile the sonic textures are as rich as any dedicated noise act and the guitars are as capable of building shoegazey, post-rock cathedrals as they are at burning them down in black metal flames and crushing the stones to fine powder with crunching, colossal riffs. The ten-minute Perversion Til Death embodies all this and more, and while the title track occasionally taunts you that it might turn into My Bloody Valentine, it never seriously has any intention other than to kick you repeatedly in the eyeballs and scream at you. With the nine-minute closing Torch Your House, Endon finally make good on their promise to make a big old epic rock song, or at least as close to one as their constitution will allow them – like screamo being played by a thousand gargantuan and impossibly ancient robots as enemy armies flee in mindless terror. Writing this now, the idea that there could be two albums above it in this list feels insane or at least contrarian: Through the Mirror is exhausting and utterly extraordinary.