Review: So Be It – Let the End Begin
Let the End Begin, the second full release from death/thrash band So Be It, is close to being the Platonic form of metal. Listening to it is like listening to Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse, old Metallica, or good Slayer — to hear it is to hear the pure essence of metal. For grizzled metal-hearing veterans such as your own eminently distinguished selves, this might imply a tired formula and an overly basic sound. This is not the case. For the pure essence of metal contains multitudes, my dear readolios.
LtEB brings, through both riff and lyric, frantic excitement, righteous anger, utter despair, and fatalistic stoicism. Thus it runs the entire gamut of emotions that it’s legal for men to experience. While that’s far from the entire spectrum of human emotion, it’s still a heckuva journey for this one album to take us on, and it does a great job. Crack open a can of No Fear and strap in.
The emotional journey of the album even has good pacing. On a song level, this means that in most songs, slower, more despondent sections are salt bae’d ever so lightly in between the harder death/thrash sections. On an album level, this means that such sections come harder and longer as the album’s end begins and we become ever more convinced of the imminence of societal and ecological collapse. The songs are undeniably fun, but I’m sure knowing the lyrics are about things such as antifascism and climate collapse makes me enjoy them even more.
The other thing I want to highlight about LtBE is the impressive fact that it’s largely the output of just the frontman Tyler McCarthy, along with drummer Anthony Rouse. So Be It does not suffer from the sterile feeling endemic to solo or, in this case, semi-solo acts, and McCarthy uses a lot of techniques to round out the band’s sound. Fittingly for death/thrash, his vocal approach is more of a bitter, outraged spit than the standard insatiable lust for cookies usually found in OSDM. He ventures into different registers and makes good use of layering to create depth of sound, liberally deploying a death growl or, for more somber moments, cleans.
Also adding to the spacious sound is some pretty durn nice DIY production to my ears. Multi-tracked rhythm and lead guitars play off each other nicely in a way similar to how the multi-tracked vocals work, and the—gasp!—audible bass chunks up their already beefy sound nicely. In fact, as it should be, the album is very guitar-focused. The riffs are exciting and the abundant solos are integral parts of the energy of the songs, not look-how-fast-I-can-play-scales wankage. Production-wise, the drums sound solid and although Rouse’s performance actually isn’t a radical departure from the programmed drums in the previous album, his playing, which relies more on gallops than death metal-style drumming, adds energy and shape to the songs without pulling much focus to itself.
We can see how guitar-forward LtEB is on album standout “Speaking Loudly, Saying Nothing”. A blistering thrash riff flies through a few quick mutations to start, then chuggs [sic] into a couple rounds of the verse, and thrashes into the verse. Under halfway through the song, our faces are melted and graced by a different top-tier thrash riff to move us into a faster, angrier one-off verse, which ends in the Corn-holiest of ways: “The only good fascist is one that’s fucking dead BWEWEWEAOIEUWOIEAWEWEEAUUUNNNGGH!!!” As I also do with Matt Pike’s appearance in those Metal vs. Racism videos that came out after May 25, 2020 in which Pike says, “Racism sucks!” and goes into a solo, I find this moment hilarious and awesome, and if that’s not metal, I don’t know what is. The ensuing multi-part solo section rips, and the song ends with a final, extra-furious rendition of the chorus, and you are powerless not to bop your head and make that metal grimace face.
Weighing in at a hefty 9:43, final song “Let the End Begin” sports somber, low-distortion moments with cleans alternating with dire, racing thrash over which McCarthy’s syncopated rasp rages about the rapidly accelerating climate apocalypse. It’s a nice finisher for the album thematically and musically, culminating in a sort of melodeath feel worthy of a Metalocalypse ending sequence and then some.
Overall, Let the End Begin is some eminently solid, straightforward metal that isn’t redefining anything but that’s a lot of fun. It might be overly-trodden ground for some listeners, and if you catch me on a day where I’ve had too much—or too little—crappuccino, I might say that it should cut a chorus repetition here or there, but that’s something I have a relatively low tolerance for. Still, I’ve yet to tire of this album. It’s the kind of album that might not see my AOTY list but that I honestly might end up spinning more frequently than some of the albums that do because it’s just good.