Until the End - From the Beginning... Until the End
Record Label: Eulogy Records
Release Date: May 13, 2008
Until the End formed formed in early 2000 in the state of Florida as a group of straight-edge musicians looking to spread their message through "tough guy" hardcore with crushing breakdowns. The band continued on those ideals until they decided to call it quits in 2005. They went through various line-up changes over the years, with members also playing with such prominent acts as Poison the Well, Shai Hulud, Throwdown and Walls of Jericho. Despite their relatively short time together, the band gained a large following of dedicated fans in the hardcore scene which resulted in four releases and many wild tours. For those who missed out during their tenure, Eulogy Records recently put out a two-disc set of the band's discography entitled, From The Beginning... Until The End.
Equal Vision Records released the band's debut, a self-titled EP, in 2000. This release differs from their later material in that it features two vocalists: "Mean" Pete Kowalsky and Alan Landsman. Their styles and sounds are slightly different - Kowalsky's voice is a little higher-pitched, while Landsman's screams are raspier - but overall, it's not necessary; the two typically trade off each line of the lyrics. It's on this EP where the band developed their style. The songs are fast-paced and snare-driven with chunky guitars, and most tracks come to an end with a big breakdown, typically accompanied by anthemic lyrics ideal for a live setting. It's a good debut and was a promising start to their career, as well as a fine precursor to their shining moment. Lyrically, Until The End is pretty typical, with topics such as betrayal, vengeance, religion, hatred and other such angry topics covered. There are also a few straight-edge anthems thrown in (most notably "Pull the Trigger") for good measure.
In 2001, the band put out their first full length, Blood in the Ink, on Eulogy Records, a label which was founded by Until The End guitarist John Wylie and the label that put out the rest of their material. It's just Kowalsky on vocals this time around, and the group re-recorded two songs from the EP, which fit in perfectly with the new material. 2002 brought about Let the World Burn, a worthy follow-up, which has six new songs, which are essentially more of the same, as well as three live versions of songs from the previous album. The live material is decent quality, but I'm not a fan of live stuff, so it did nothing for me. One thing I must point out is that the second song on this disc, the title track, cuts out after about 30 seconds. I don't know if all the albums have this problem or if it's just the copy I was provided, but either way it's not right and thus quite bothersome.
It was around this time that Kowalsky's other project, Remembering Never, was gaining momentum. Although it started as a fun side project, they had signed to Ferret Records and were becoming more of a priority. As a result, Kowalsky amicably split from the band. He was replaced with James McHugh, who made his debut in 2004 on The Blind Leading the Lost, the band's final release. He has a deeper voice, but the music was still the same. McHugh was similar lyrically to the past material, though he did veer into political territory on a few tracks, a topic that Kowalsky would also explore in Remembering Never. McHugh even used lyrics from the Billy Bragg protest song, "Tender Comrade," in an Until The End song of the same name. The band also did new renditions of two older songs.
From The Beginning... Until The End is perfect for anyone who missed out on the glory days of Until the End, but it's very disappointing for those who were looking for a quality re-release. I was hoping for some bonus material, but alas there are no extra songs, no DVD, no special linear notes, and nothing to make it stand out. Anyone new to modern, straight-edge hardcore should pick this up without hesitation, but there's no need to if you already have the old releases.