Imagine that you wake up one morning to find your house in disarray. You walk downstairs from your bedroom only to feel a cold draft until you notice that the front door was been broken down. Your belongings are strewn about and as the situation slowly sets in, you begin to panic. You race back upstairs to check on your loved ones only to find that someone is missing. Frantically, you race downstairs calling out their name, hoping in vain that they’re nearby. Running through the kitchen you notice a piece of paper on the refrigerator. You stop and read the note that has been carefully made out of letters cut out of magazines and to your sinking horror you realize it’s a ransom note.
This is a terrifying scenario even to think about, let alone actually live through, but on their debut full length The Words in Ink Don’t Lie, Endicott have crafted a concept album about a fictional kidnapping. Told from three perspectives—the victim, the abductor and the victim’s family—the album is a twelve-track odyssey into the headspace of this horrible crime. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but unfortunately, Endicott is not up to the task. Stumbling musically and lyrically, The Words in Ink Don’t Lie is posture masquerading as thought.
From the opening, obviously titled cut, “Ransom Note”, it appears that the kidnapping concept is nothing more than an excuse for vocalist Charles Cure to say some tough sounding shit. “That’s me standing with a gun to your head”, he screams on the track. Lyrically, Cure paints the concept literally, never truly getting into the mindset of any of points of view he wishes to present. Curiously, though Cure sings about blood, knives, and tears quite frequently, the actual details of the events are vague. Worse, the vocals of each track are equally urgent, coloring the players in the story with same emotional brush. A variety in delivery as the story changes viewpoints would’ve done wonders in adding much needed texture throughout the disc. But Cure sticks to one style and the audience never does get a sense of the fear, menace, hurt, or worry that the characters are going through.
However, the album truly falls apart musically. Endicott play a familiar brand of hardcore, that combines singing, screaming, and generic light metal guitar riffs. The awful production of the album doesn’t help matters either, only highlighting how banal the music actually is. This is easily one of the worst production jobs I’ve heard on a hardcore record in a long time, though it’s difficult to know where to point the blame. The band is listed as the album’s producer, Joe Pedulla (Bear Vs. Shark, This Day Foward, Thursday) as the engineer and Erin Farley (Agnostic Front, Taking Back Sunday) as the mixer. Regardless, the album feels like it was recorded on a computer. All the instruments are strangely compressed. Cure’s vocals are pushed way up in the mix, but the guitars—and especially the drums—feel squeezed out, digitized and ultimately weakened. For Endicott to rise above their mediocre songwriting, the instruments need to blaze out of the mix, instead of being along for the ride.
The Words in Ink Don’t Lie is a brilliant idea that is destroyed in its execution. Cure lacks the lyrical maturity and the creative attention the concept needs. The musicians are capable, but aren’t bringing anything new to the table. Though the group’s ambition may put them slightly ahead of similarly styled bands, once the guitars are plugged in and the songs start, they are treading the same, tired ground as their brethren.