"Inside the Difference Engine"

(Exile on Mainstream)

01. Selfishnegativbemerchant
02. Mr. Dinosaur is Lost
03. Reticence
04. Comers
05. Words Have No Meanings
06. Instrinktivitus
07. End of Line
08. Connortations

RATING: 7.5/10

A peculiar name to go with peculiar music, England's END OF LEVEL BOSS gives a whole new meaning to riff-based metal on "Inside the Difference Engine". With roots that stretch into stoner rock (yet not exactly "stoner rock") with psychedelic shades, and technically accomplished musicianship, but more importantly, heavy, riffed out jams, the act's sophomore effort is a trip worth taking.

The sonic tendrils of END OF LEVEL BOSS stretch as far as lands occupied by KYUSS and to some degree early SOUNDGARDEN, yet one would never mistake these fellows for either hallowed act. That said, vocalist/guitarist Heck Armstrong delivers in a manner that does indeed remind of Chris Cornell ("Ultramega OK" and "Louder Than Love" era), sometimes in a similarly soulful, yet urgent, tone (e.g. "Mr. Dinosaur is Lost") and sometimes in feel alone. Then again, his vocals also vaguely remind of John Bush (ex-ANTHRAX, ARMORED SAINT), particularly on "Selfishnegativevibemerchant". Reaching for the comparisons is less important than pointing out the guy's power though, as his uniqueness on songs like the diamond-hard "Reticence" demonstrate.

Equally important to the success of "Inside the Difference Engine" are the guitars and rhythm section, in both cases angular and somewhat unconventional. The loping riff/rhythm that marries a palpable sense of unbridled intensity on "Selfishnegativevibemerchant" is strangely hypnotic, yet the tune itself is hard as nails. The riffs and solos are ironclad and strangely twisted, while the wah-wah effects peppered throughout are well done, to say the least. "Mr. Dinosaur is Lost" literally flows and is filled with licks that intrigue and trippy solos that wind their way through the composition, one that still sports plenty of stomp along the way.

It is the interesting tempo of "Corners", the faint spaciousness of "End of Line", and the way in which "Connortations" burns with smoldering bass runs, heavy-handed cadence, and riff swirls that together make "Inside the Difference Engine" an album that may cause periodic head scratching but always entertains. If I had to pick a criticism it would be that the songs themselves could stand to be more memorable and distinctive. Regardless, the album is a good one that doesn't sound quite like anything else out there.


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