My favorite 100 albums of all time: #25 ("The End of Silence")
The End of Silence is the kind of music that would make construction crews call about noise violations. If Spinal Tap turns it up to 11, then the Rollins Band takes it to 13. It's an abattoir for eardrums. What I'm saying, kids, is this is a loud one and in no way subtle.
Weight shows the Rollins Band as accessible as they get. The End of Silence is every bit as well-produced as Weight, but there are no compromises to a wide audience. You're in, or you're out. I'm in.
The End of Silence was my introduction to Henry Rollins and the Rollins Band. I might have run into Black Flag at some point before, but I don't specifically remember when. I first caught up with the Rollins Band with the video for "Low Self Opinion."
At the time, I was really interested in harder music – but a lot of metal just didn't appeal to me. Faux anger and posturing, and all the juvenile trappings that seem to be inextricably intertwined with the vast majority of metal acts left me cold.
The Rollins Band was a little bit more my speed. Also, they weren't just about playing fast – though they can do – but about precision and real "heaviness." Somewhere between Metallica and jazz.
"Low Self Opinion," is probably the closest thing to radio-friendly on the album. It also spoke to me personally, and provided a much-needed kick in the ass.
Ever been through a bad break-up? "Tearing" is cathartic as a motherfucker. Turn this up to 11 and you'll get at least five minutes of relief. Come to think of it, "You Didn't Need," and "Almost Real" are in the same category.
"Obscene" won't be tearing up the pop charts anytime soon. After a lengthy "shock and awe" musical intro, it ratchets up the intensity with Rollins doing a primal scream. Everybody in the band is playing with maximum effort here (the next Deadpool movie needs some Rollins Band something fierce). And then at the three-minute mark, things get quiet. Like, things stalking through the jungle quiet. There's some quiet and broody guitar, percussion, and Rollins nearly at a whisper.
After a minute, everything explodes again – with even more ferocity. Shit totally comes unglued, and gloriously so.
Silence has a few lengthy jams as well. "Blues Jam" and "Just Like You" each clock in at more than 10 minutes. Strap in for these, "Blues Jam" is a heavy, ponderous, lurching monster of a song. "Life will not break your heart, it'll crush it!" This one is a blunt instrument, and I find it intensely satisfying.
"Another Life" is a shorter but just as intense. This is a not-too-subtle jab at substance abuse from Rollins, who doesn't go for such nonsense. Rollins touched on this again with "Shine" on Weight, a little more positively. "I got no time for drug addiction, no time for smoke and booze / Too strong for a shortened life span, I've got no time to lose!"
Here, there's more than a little contempt directed at folks who'd throw their productivity away with hard drugs.
The End of Silence is an intensely satisfying album if you enjoy hard rock ("alt metal" in some circles) that's off the beaten path. For first-time Rollins Band exposure, I'd start with Weight and then work my way over to End of Silence, but my love of this one knows no bounds.