Review: Explosions in the Sky, End
ATX instrumental band's seventh studio album is also its first in seven years
Rest assured: This is not the end. Explosions in the Sky already confirmed as much. But the band's seventh studio album and first in seven years isn't a new beginning, either. EITS' twin peaks, 2003's The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place and 2007's All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, played out as album-length epics, unfurling in acts and waves, cresting and falling with tidal serenity and unmistakable emotional pull. The band's more recent output has been more singular in focus, capturing fleeting scenes in lieu of complete stories. End continues this trend, balancing the orbital exploration of 2016's The Wilderness with the immediacy of their numerous soundtracks (queue "Peace or Quiet"). Drummer Chris Hrasky sounded almost uncomfortable with the early stages of the record, calling it "sprawling and fairly unpleasant" in a December 2021 interview with the Chronicle. "We've had stuff that's heavy, but the new stuff kinda makes me feel unsettled, which is clearly a reflection on how everyone is feeling these days." You can sense that tension in the terse angst of "The Fight," which fortifies behind desolate squalls to stage a climactic last stand behind the wall of guitarists Munaf Rayani and Mark Smith and bassist/guitarist Michael James. But End still brims with hope and promise, no more so than on "Moving On," with its beaming synths and stadium drums, and "Loved Ones," which builds atop an extended piano interlude. End might not be a breakthrough, but it doesn't have to be. By the time the credits roll in closer "It's Never Going to Stop," Explosions in the Sky have proven once again that sometimes it's enough to just keep going.