Treat – The Endgame – Album Review

Artist: Treat

Album Title: The Endgame

Label: Frontiers Music

Date of Release: 8 April 2022

Twelve years ago, Swedish melodic hard rock band Treat made a comeback. A full eighteen years after the release of their fifth, self-titled record, the Stockholm-based quintet rose from the ashes and blew just about everyone away with their comeback album, ‘Coup De Grace’. Existing fans were delighted to be reunited with the band whilst new listeners like me were equally enamoured. ‘Coup De Grace’ was one of those albums, a rarity where the stars aligned perfectly to allow a masterpiece to emerge. Even my bitter, miserable ex loved this album, it was just that good.

Since then, Treat have released another couple of albums in the shape of 2016’s ‘Ghost Of Graceland’ and ‘Tunguska’, released in 2018. For one reason or another, I missed out on the opportunity to review them, but I have heard them, and they continued the post-hiatus renaissance nicely. And now, in 2022, the line-up that brought us ‘Coup De Grace’ is again reunited to deliver album number nine, ‘The Endgame’.

Cards on the table: in my opinion, it’d take an absolute miracle for Treat to better their tour-de-force from 2010. And after much listening and deliberation, I can only conclude that a miracle is not quite what we have on our hands here. That’s not to say that ‘The Endgame’ is not a fantastic record, because it is. However, being as honest and dispassionate as I possibly can be, it falls slightly short of ‘Coup De Grace’. And there’s one major reason for this, and it’s the fact that the second half of the album is not quite as strong as the first half. Had the quality continued from start to finish, we’d be staring down the barrel of a bona-fide classic. As it is, ‘The Endgame’ will have to make do with just being brilliant and a whole heap of fun along the way.

The Swedes come out of the blocks on fire, delivering one of their finest tracks ever in the form of ‘Freudian Slip’. Keyboardist Patrick Appelgren kicks things off with a brief, dramatic intro before the guitars of Anders ‘Gary’ Wikström take over and blow away the cobwebs. In tandem with the powerful beats of Jamie Borger and Nalle Pahlsson’s authoritative rumbling bass, it’s an imposing beginning. Lead guitar embellishments, lashings of keys, and then Robert Ernlund’s distinctive voice all add to the potent cocktail before the AOR-tinged chorus takes things up another notch. The layers of vocals are great, but the hooks are irresistible, ensuring that the song makes the biggest impact possible, setting the tone for the remainder of the album.

‘Rabbit Hole’ is a punchy, high-octane number, with a groovy swagger to it. And then it delivers an incredibly catchy chorus that hits the mark. But the best bit of the song is the point at which everything drops away and via keys, moody guitars, and Robert Ernlund’s vocals, the song takes a darker, more dramatic turn. It’s unexpected, but a classy move that adds another dimension to an already cracking track.

Up next in a monster opening to the album is ‘Sinbiosis’. The pulsing bass and chunky riffs that dominate the verse are great, but the bright, breezy hook-laden chorus is an utter delight, almost pop-like, and so much fun; at the current time, it’s this giant chorus that I find myself singing in the shower or is lodged in my head when I wake up in the morning. With the ubiquitous key change near the end, it’s a masterclass in catchy melodic rock veering into lush AOR territory.

At this point, I am beginning to sense that we’re in the presence of something truly special, and I’m not dissuaded by ‘Home Of The Brave’ either, meaning it’s four from four. The track has a definite ballad-like feel at points but it gallops along at a really nice tempo, particularly within the anthemic chorus, led by the rock solid rhythm section. There’s a vague Celtic, folky influence that I can detect coming through in the melodies and, given the track’s title, I get the feeling it’s a deliberate move, and one that works well within the confines of this song.

Make that five from five thanks to ‘Both Ends Burning’, a longer track, and a darker, moodier one too, with a surprising muscularity. It opens slowly, carefully, with acoustic guitars, layers of brooding synths, and a wonderfully rich bass sound. When it opens up fully, it is irresistible, with an immediately catchy melody interwoven with hefty riffs that keeps that slightly more menacing tone to the song. Worry not, because when I say menacing, it’s all relative; think puppy teeth rather than a rabid Rottweiler! But seriously, I like the fact that Treat like to flex their hard rock muscles occasionally and to such good effect.

The all-out ballad ‘My Parade’ brings the first half of ‘The Endgame’ to a close and regardless of whether or not you like ballads, you’ll be hard pressed to deny the brilliance of this one. The chorus is liquid gold, and impossible not to love, unless you have a heart of pure stone. I even don’t mind The Beatles-esque ‘Na Na Na Na’ vocals that make an appearance.

In the second half, however, there are a couple of missteps in my personal opinion. Firstly, I’m given the feeling that the band lose just a little energy and so the material occasionally lacks the oomph of the first half. For example, I can take or leave ‘Jesus From Hollywood’ despite the cool solo guitar intro and bold choral synth effects. The chorus doesn’t quite take off in the same way as others and even though the hooks and sing-along elements are present and correct, it feels like something is missing.

‘Magic’ is a nice enough song, with strong melodies, but I can’t shake the feeling that this has ‘boyband hit’ written all over it. I know that the likes of Westlife and Boyzone wouldn’t have the guitars so prominently positioned, but the song feels overly smooth and incredibly mainstream. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not the greatest fan of it overall, as it’s a little too nice.

The heavily 80’s infused ‘Carolina Reaper’ sees a return to more energetic climes and it’s a marvellous shot to the arm too, whilst ‘Dark To Light’ is an altogether darker affair, full of drama and surprisingly heavy groove in the verses.

The final composition is ‘To The End Of Love’, a suitably epic and rousing song that carries with it a bittersweet vibe. On the one hand, it feels full of positivity and hope, especially in the first half. However, as it develops, I detect much more sombre overtones. And I like the way that it subtly and cleverly plays with my emotions. When it ends, I’m not sure if I feel elated, or slightly sad, especially with the use of a poignant spoken word sample at the death. And credit for this must go to the songwriting prowess of the band as it’s not an easy trick to pull off. Regardless of the emotions at play, it’s yet another melodic rock anthem, and a strong way to close out the record.

It’ll be interesting to see what others come up with over the next few months but, as it currently stands, ‘The Endgame’ is far and away the best melodic hard rock album of 2022 so far. And it’ll take an awful lot for it to be beaten, that’s for sure.

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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