The End of Silence

“Caravaggio was like a right-angle in the history of art; things were one way before him, and completely different after.”

Quotation taken from the NGV’s ‘Darkness and Light: Caravaggio and his World’ exhibition of 2004, where it was stencilled on a wall at the conclusion.

Your author paraphrases Robert Hughes from memory.

When The Rollins Band played in Australia behind The End of Silence in 1991, I was on a school trip to New Guinea. When I came home, I heard from a few of my ratbag, pot-smoking friends that they had attended one of the most frighteningly impressive gigs yet beheld by one of our number.

I took the album and gave it a spin, flipping over the cover and looking at the photo of the Caliban-come-Max-Cady-monster on the back. I couldn’t hack it; the music was just too harsh for me to digest.

Some years later, I found myself out of momentum, grounded on the salt-pan of late adolescence. I had graduated from high school, was into university, had no autonomy, and no idea who I was. But I knew what I was.

I was angry.

I don’t know why, but I started listening to The End of Silence again. The songs that comprise The End of Silence are long,
contemplative and relatively slow.

Rollins builds up sophisticated, multi-faceted ideas along rhyme schemes that are similarly complicated and elegant. These kinds of structures encourage you to participate intellectually, as well as emotionally. It soon became the soundtrack for everything I did.

Rollins once said that Black Flag sounded like the ultimate soundtrack to a full-scale riot. In that sense, for me, The End of Silence is the soundtrack to a full-scale gestalt. It was my right angle.

I was ghosting around on iTunes the other day and discovered, to my astonishment, that no customer reviews were logged for Mr. Rollins’ apotheosis.

I gave it a shot; who knows, if he starts looking himself up (as I would), I may be able to repay him in a small way. The review is presented below, for your delectation.


‘The End of Silence’ was the fifth album released by The Rollins Band.

Henry Rollins rose to rock-and-roll prominence out front of seminal 80’s US punk outfit, Black Flag. Characterised by Greg Ginn’s acerbic, angular guitar style and Rollins’ throat-stripping vocals, the band were critical of the UK punk scene’s adherence to fashion as a staple of punk music.

After Black Flag folded, Rollins struck out in his own direction with guitarist Andrew Haskett, drummer Sim Cain and bass player Andrew Weiss. They produced a number of records very much in the Black Flag vein – production was the thinnest of veils through which all that trademark vitriol could come pouring through. The songs were short, fast and straight ahead to the finish.

‘The End of Silence’ is a different affair altogether. The songs are longer and slower and Rollins is in full roar, his vocals providing the ideal platform for a lyrical style it had taken him his career to perfect. Rollins provides the listener with a portrait of the interior landscape of the angry young man, listing towards what could only be described as manic depression.

If the brain is the phantasmagoria, you get a portrait of all the silhouettes thrown up against the walls of his skull, one of the longest being that of his father. Henry proves himself a lyricist of great sophistication who succeeds in evoking his subjects in a way that vocalists like Phil Anselmo could only dream of.

‘The End of Silence’ is a long album comprised of long songs, and is very demanding of its listener. It stands, however, at one of the farthest outposts of ‘popular’ music and will constantly surprise you in terms of the sophistication and intelligence of which rock and roll is capable.

– Jarrod Boyle.

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