End Of Level Boss Prologue

Despite their ultra-creative moniker — and the robot album art honouring the classic arcade game Berserk — London’s End Of Level Boss end up re-treading old ground vacated long ago by grunge-era Metallica. Headed by Hangnail guitar-slingers Heck Armstrong and James Ogawa, EOLB categorically excise themselves from the stoner rock morass of their former band, but wind up falling into similar ruts of reiterative ennui. Their debut album Prologue begins inauspiciously with the record’s finest track, "Freak Waves,” a tepid amalgam of mid-career Trouble, King Crimson-like chord progressions, and distant shades of old Soundgarden. The ten-minute "Disjointhead” is a speedier tribute to the filthier side of Alice In Chains’ Dirt, with vocalist Armstrong admirably aping Layne Staley and both guitarists finding ample room for their slow-burning and laidback fretboard gymnastics. After a teaser of Slayer riffing, "Vivid” wades neck-deep in Ten Minute Warning-styled punk metal, while "Hedonophobia” blends Godflesh-y chordage and Rage Against The Machine jaggedness under a veil of Katatonia-influenced overtones. "Noisepicker” and especially "Step the Mind Gap” reprise the AIC homage, with the latter’s eagerly reverberation of the fingerings that made Jerry Cantrell a household name in the ’90s. Though their album collapses slightly under the weight of its own repetition, End Of Level Boss could easily step forward on their next release to spar with the big boys of indie metal. (Exile on Mainstream)