One of those bands that enjoys the infuriating tactic of the repeated 's/t' album, End would return for another monochromatic effort one year after their debut. While End was nothing special in of itself, I wouldn't deny that the band's bleak, melancholic and minimalistic approach to the genre was unwelcome, and their use of acoustics and other atmospherics lent a credible versatility to such to their gray expose. What I found most lacking were the riff patterns, an issue that End themselves seemed to have addressed with End II, at least marginally, for the guitars here seem to deliver a half dozen or more memorable sequences that rely on nothing other than their own carnal fortitude.
Once more, End are not performing in the 'Hellenic' tradition, per se, but emulating their Norse heroes like Burzum and Darkthrone with a decidedly grimy production that feels raw without ever becoming annoying. The songs are typically much longer here, most of which run from 8-9 minutes in length, and don't have nearly enough quality content to fill that space. However, the crude, drifting, suicidal epochs of "Funeral Pyre" and "Defalcation of Psychopathia" certainly manifest enough primitive furor that you'll feel the four walls of your sanity and dreams closing in upon you, so tight that they choke you as if a collar of spikes. There are also several similar abstractions and experiments in the strain of their debut, like the haunting depths of the guitar instrumental "Nebula" or "Winterfog" which proved the most absorbing things on the album...give End clean guitars, nature samples and synthesizers for ambiance, and their level of competence seems to escalate exponentially.
As if to cement the band's devotion to their Norwegian influences, they have also included a cover of Carpathian Forest's "Pierced Genetalia" here, from the excellent Black Shining Leather album. They don't take a lot of liberties, playing it straight, and there's not much impetus in choosing it over the original, but it somehow fits into their misanthropic original context, and I enjoyed the breakdown quite a lot in their Greek grasp. On the whole, End II is a superior effort in several departments. The ambient pieces are better, and immediately worth filing away for the perfect rainy autumn or winter days. The construction of metal riffs is more apt to catch the maniacal black metal addict's devotions. The vocals more venomous. It's not a reinvention or progression of the band's roots, but a wealthy enough portrait of sorrow and ire.
Verdict: Win [7.25/10] (to promise frozen enemies)