Pax Aeternum presents the debut album from Philadelphia hardcore/noise rock solo outfit, END YOU, titled Aimless Dread.
It’s not uncommon for punks approaching the golden years of their later thirties to undertake a solo project. They might want to indulge their sensitive singer-songwriter side, they might have gotten really into DJing house music, or they might just be tired of dealing with drummers. But while the inclination towards going it alone isn’t rare, the approach taken by Eric Smith for Aimless Dread, his debut solo release as End You, eschews so many of the cliches that the phrase “solo project” evokes, opting instead for a set of the most intense output Smith has ever released, a vicious yet cerebral set of material .
Aimless Dread will be released on all streaming services on Friday, May 21st via Pax Aeternum with a concurrent cassette tape release via The Ghost Is Clear Records.
Eric Smith is an occasionally employed bartender and ornery little cuss currently residing in South Philadelphia. Raised and reared in the nightmare hellscape of mid-‘90s exurban sprawl and chiseled to a fine point in the sweaty and bloodstained circuit of mould-covered basements and smoke-filled dive bars dotting the western hemisphere’s DIY punk underground in the early 2000s, Smith spent over a decade fronting the Richmond, Virginia-based noisy punk collective The Catalyst before they quietly disbanded in 2013, quietly disbanded again in 2015, and then loudly disbanded again in 2016.
Aimless Dread was written in exile in a cramped and dimly lit studio apartment off Passyunk Avenue. Tapping a breadth of influences as diverse as Born Against, Karp, Converge, Torche, Botch, Young Widows, Ken Mode, Drive Like Jehu, the Amphetamine Reptile back-catalog, and the twin towers of early ‘00s Virginia post-hardcore Majority Rule and Pageninetynine, Smith developed a sound which defies categorization but hearkens back to the high-contrast, poorly-xeroxed heyday of extreme music, those days before curated playlists and banal microgenres, when punk rock still felt seductive, expansive, and dangerous.
Drumbeats were banged out on desks and steering wheels before being painstakingly programmed, stroke by stroke, using live samples. After recording a series of home demos and adopting the nom de guerre END YOU, Smith headed into Permanent Hearing Damage Studio at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with veteran engineer Steve Roche (Saetia, Off Minor, Hirs, Armalite) at the helm.
As the title implies, Aimless Dread tells a story common to a generation that watched thousands of people die on live television while still teenagers — the creeping realization that perhaps nothing good will ever happen again. Lyrically, the album darts artfully from the personal to the political and back again. From Smith’s struggles with social anxiety and substance abuse to ruminations on contemporary issues like rampant police brutality and the resurgence of international fascism, Aimless Dread takes stabs at various demons both real and imagined.
The result of all of this is nearly forty-five minutes of trudging, soul-crushing, noisy, punk bash-and-roll, brimming with urgency and sorrow, at once both dissonant and melodic, full of hooks and nods to the many heroes of the genre. A debut many years in the making, and a potential future classic if it reaches the ears that most need it.
Plans are in place for a live band featuring Smith on guitar/vocals and Roche on drums, if and when the world stops ending. Writing for a follow-up is already well under way.
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