The New Classics: Rune – ‘The End of Nothing’

Here is hopefully the first of a new feature here at Teeth of the Divine, The New Classics. if you have been listening to metal for any amount of time you well know there there are a certain few records hailed as unquestionable classics. Legendary releases that, 20 years after their release, are still revered, still influential and still great listens. Of course, most of those classics were released in the ’80s and ’90s: Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets, Altars of Madness, Left Hand Path and others, to this day, are considered true classics and will be in another 20 years.

by Erik T

But what about albums released in the ’00s and beyond? Are there any albums from the last decade that will be as revered as those classics in 20 years? Granted, the ’80s and ’90s were the birthing age of extreme metal and could be considered the golden age of metal, but will we see a Left Hand Path of this generation? Was there a Reign in Blood released somewhere in the ’00s? We think there were and the Teeth of the Divine staff has pooled their opinions and knowledge to deliver albums released since 2003 that should be and will be considered classics for metal’s next generation of fans. These are albums that will stand the test of time and be looked back on (if not already) fondly and with hushed tones of reverence, influencing future generations of metal bands. Albums that will elbow their way onto critics and fans ‘top albums of all time lists’ in 2025.

And first up is a critically acclaimed  game changer from a (then) young label, and an album that found its way onto many 2003 year end lists, The End of Nothing from Ohio’s short lived Rune.

The End of Nothing was the 19th release from Willowtip Records, a label that would soon be and still is considered one of metal’s finest extreme labels. And even though they had previously released some fine death metal and grind from the likes of Harakiri, Sadis Euphoria, Upheaval and Commit Suicide and even some more left field releases from Cephalic Carnage (the Halls of Amenti EP) and Year of Our Lord, it was Rune‘s debut, but alas sole album, that really put the label on the map as extreme music’s top indie label.

I actually remember getting the album for review in the days (alas the review was lost in the great database crash of 2008) , and at the time, really not truly appreciating what it was. The term ‘ahead of it’s time’ gets thrown around a lot, but having only been reviewing for a mere 2 years, The End of Nothing literally took me by surprise. I recall, label owner Jason Tipton angrily emailing me several times, asking where the review was and why it was taking so long, and while I remember stalling, the truth was, I really didn’t know how to approach reviewing such a forward thinking album.

Jason Tipton further elaborates “I know this sounds dumb but in those early days I never worried about what the response would be to an album. I have always been super picky and only putting out stuff I really liked. Plus, the split with Kalibas was out and we were working with Kalibas already so it was a natural fit. That being said, when you give a band money to go into the studio and record you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes you may be a bit disappointed and sometimes you may be blown away. To this day many of our albums take many listens to fully sink in, and these albums always tend to be the best – and this was no doubt true with the Rune album”.

And even the band were unsure of how it would be received “At the time it seemed like nobody liked it! Our music wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so response was mixed. There were some heavy themes, and an overall aura to that record that took time to settle in for some.” states then drummer Dave Mann, now in Mouth of the Architect.

So a few months after its release, I did get around to writing a review and I was blown away. From the opening strains of “An Affinity” you knew you simply were not getting another slab of brutish, tech brutality akin to much of the label’s prior output. While still loosely based on technical death metal and grindcore, even on the band’s split with Kalibas the same year, the band (Dave Mann, Jimmy Magnuson, Rick Schutte, Kevin Gamble. Jeremy Jordan, Doug McGinnis) had suddenly evolved into something much more.

Combining black metal, doom, experimental segues, somber ambiance, twisted tech death riffage, and a melancholic but intelligent, dark mood, The End of Nothing simply defied then easy to define categorization. While often tumbling with caustic, atonal grids, riffs and busy tech death metal percussion, it was littered with tense, brooding moments of menacing clarity. Rather than beat you over the head with brute force brutality, Rune, lurked, whispered and haunted with clinical, insanity inducing precision.

The album’s easier highlight and centerpiece was the 9+ minute “This Sorrow”, an aptly titled track that spirals from dizzying techy grindcore into a blackened vortex, to a truly wilting, transcendental number with artful, somber melody lines and soul crushing, string laden, melancholic mid section and end note. It really is one of the more evocative and complete tracks of the ’00s and really elevated the album to something special.

Even Mann feels this was the album’s strongest cut: “That song was about very personal struggles, very extreme ideas, and the most painfully slow ending we ever wrote. I loved playing that song live. The whole ending of that song was added after the song was “finished”, and gave the song the tortured feel we thought it was missing. That song still gets to me.

And while longer, brooding, lingering tracks like “An Affinity”, the overlooked doom of “Leaving Form”, “Wilt” and “This Sorrow” would define the album, Rune were also able to deliver staggering technical death metal and caustic precision as the likes of “This Worthless Endeavor”, “Opium For My Soul”, and “Babylon Burning” showed the band’s grind roots. But the blasting, complex grindcore or death metal was never banal brutality, as there is a somber backdrop and even sense of sadness lurking in every riff, even the pinch harmonic blasts.

And while many US death metal bands, including many of Rune‘s label mates were using dense, dirty or low end guitars or super low vocals and being as brutal as possible to seemingly fill the void left by Suffocation, Rune‘s sound was brittle and neurotic as the riffs, like shards of glass being thrown on a tin roof, but it was clearly meant for headphones to allow the many styles to breathe as in the longer more doom laced experimental numbers.

The album ends with what some might construe as the release’s only miss step, “Ethereal Bleeding” a 6 minute electronic/programmed number that pulsed and beeped to an almost grating climax. But on a label with a roster littered with near classic, superb releases from the likes of Gorod, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Defeated Sanity, Goatsblood, Watchmaker, Ulcerate, Arsis, Neuraxis (whose Truth Beyond… could well be a future entry on this feature in my opinion), Rune‘s The End of Nothing stands out as a true, new classic. Whether it’s bolstered by the finality of the band’s lone release and not tainted by any further releases that could have been let downs or the sheer genre shattering creativity is to be debated. But anyone who has not heard this album should head over to Willowtip and grab the special edition with a live set and couple of unreleased songs and experience one of the most striking albums of the last decade that deserves to be revered into the next decade.

“As far as acclaim goes there is no doubt it’s still an insanely underrated album. It did get good reviews but Rune broke up too soon to really receive the accolades and acclaim they deserved. The end of nothing has a great underground following, but so few people know about this album. Is it a classic? I think it is for sure, but hopefully more and more people will learn about it and The End of Nothing will get the true recognition it deserves” muses Jason Tipton on the album’s delayed impact so many years after it was released.

Mann also chimes in on the the impact of the album over 10 years later: “It feels good that over a decade later people still mention it. That band was an absolute struggle from start to finish, and the music in a lot of ways was an expression of that very struggle. I am so thankful that all the right pieces fell into place to make that record possible”.



  1. Commented by: Dan

    This album is definitely a gem. I bought it not long after it came out after reading a review on (Now Last Rites *sniff*) and it was just way beyond where I was at as a metal fan back then.

    A few months ago I was digging through my old CDs and decided to give it one more listen. Lo and behold it fucking slays.

    Talk about a slow burner.

  2. Commented by: vugelnox

    Erik I agree 10,000% with both this post and the entire idea of this feature. I bought this immediately upon its release being a bit of a Willowtip junkie at the time (still consider ’02 thru ’05 to be the label’s zenith) and I’ve enjoyed it ever since. Even a decade later when I heard the newest Ruins of Beverast album for the first time I immediately thought of this album. Those thick, churning riffs overlaid with such an oppressive atmosphere, it’s timeless and definitely a classic.

  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Great write-up and album. Recently revisited the album and it has grown in stature over time. Or maybe I just appreciate it differently these days. I agree this album was released during the golden early run of Willowtip and remains one of the label’s best ever releases and a modern classic in its own right.

  4. Commented by: ikillednoe

    GREAT feature idea, love to see more like this for sure

  5. Commented by: Timothy D White

    It’s crazy I’m just coming across this; I was listening to this band the other day, and I was thinking that they had rune all over their music. Bands like rune and mastodon are the formative influences for these new cats, like Metallica and Slayer were for my generation…

  6. Commented by: Jodini

    Still love this album to this day. Such great mood, riffs… love it

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.