For someone who teaches a college English course centered around literary and cinematic depictions of the apocalypse, there's an inherently pleasing quality to a record as decidedly eschatological as "Winter," Amebix's 1983 sophomore release. The A-side, the brooding, bass-heavy, and anxiety-ridden title track, is an unremittingly bleak portrait of a nuclear winter: pillars of black smoke lead from the grey, lifeless earth to the grey, sunless sky. What human life remains following the unnamed calamity that has decimated the globe struggles to fend off the unabating chill that has descended. And all this is delivered in Aphid's primal growl, which sounds more like the last attempt of a freshly eviscerated man to capture in words the horror he sees as the light of life fades to black than anything approaching singing. A harrowing performance through-and-through.
"Beginning of the End," like the A-side, layers a droning guitar over a more urgent, even agitatedly intense, rhythm section to evoke an acutely unsettling mood. Lyrically, the song envisions a not-so-distant future in which "the machine," an unholy amalgam of corporate and governmental greed, systematically smothers individual freedom, bringing about a desolate wasteland where abject starvation and animal desperation corrode social ties, pitting neighbor against neighbor and parent against child.