- A heartfelt and haunting exploration of grief through the lens of contemporary club music.
- There's always been something untethered about Endgame's music, something that holds meaning beyond the confines of the club. His reggaeton-inspired grooves and militant beats are as likely to lull you into a trance as they to make you move. Surrender, inspired by the death of his father last year, broadens the scope even further. Here Endgame fully immerses himself in his grief, processing the loss in real time with the most adventurous and vulnerable sounds of his career. He doesn't become more subdued or recoil into himself as part of the mourning process. Instead, in a career first, he experiments with singing and rapping, contemplating life and death and baring his darkest, innermost thoughts.
I was excited to find out Endgame would be singing on the record. His link-ups with artists like Daemon are memorable enough to convince you that his productions are best suited for harsh, swaggering flows. Endgame's voice, on the other hand, is morose and mumbly. If you heard him acapella, you wouldn't think to place his performances over such blistering sounds, at risk of them being swallowed up. But on Surrender, it works, and it works well. These vocal experiments have a hypnotic quality, adding to the ceremonial vibe of these songs.
Opener "Faithless" simmers with cinematic tension. Prickly, skittering drums form a menacing soundscape, and you feel as if you've entered the final boss fight of a dungeon-crawler with no weapons and low HP. Surrender's production is doom-laden enough that even without Endgame's dark lyrics, the themes of death and despair come across in the music itself.
Endgame's work often touches on gothic aesthetics and sounds, and he takes it to another level on this album. A delicate balance of order and chaos holds each track together. "Bodies" and "Sacrifice” are blitzes of martial drums, backed by keyboard runs that sound divine, almost ancient. "Exhumed" features Organ Tapes crooning the album's catchiest melodies. His vocals are slurred and drenched in Autotune, yet the effect only adds to the longing and despair in his voice. It's one of the more conventionally structured tracks, and the bittersweet ballad's uncut reflections on the nature of death make it hit all the harder.
Surrender contemplates the afterlife and journeys deeper into it with each new track. The industrial grind of "No More Heroes" feels like the initial lashing out after a loss, and by the time "Requiem" comes around, there's an air of acceptance about fate. "Requiem" is a letter of longing addressed to the other side, in which Endgame views his pain as an act of remembrance.
Lines like, "Make me vulnerable to everything including this pain," showcase his willingness to feel his way through the suffering. This willingness has allowed him to tap into uncharted spaces, both musically and emotionally. Cuts that would otherwise set the dance floor ablaze are littered with religious and esoteric references, and he shares deeply personal thoughts. His confessions don't come off as moments of weakness. Instead they sound like head-on confrontations, a brave expedition into the darker parts of the human psyche.
02. Barbed Heart feat. Yayoyanoh
03. The Shadow of Death
04. No Heroes
Exhumed feat. Organ Tapes