Coils of Entropy
posted on 3/2012 By:
I adore Canada, and I clearly have a bit of an affinity for metal, so when Nephelium crossed my path a few weeks ago, I had a vested interest in reviewing their full-length debut. Coils of Entropy has an intensely old-school sound (perhaps because the record is reportedly ten years in the making?) but does not drown in the murky waters of Nephelium's influences. This band is not made up of a bunch of Cannibal Corpse-worshipping teens. Formed in Dubai during the late 90’s by Alex Zubair and Alan Madhavan, the group developed their sound long before relocating to the Great White North. Now that Nephelium has finally released a full album of material, it’s probably only a matter of time before they secure high-profile support slots and get themselves more recognition.
Their work has an execution similar to Suffocation (though admittedly nowhere near as tight), but overall Nephelium tries mightily to forge a path of their own with their incendiary blend of extreme death metal. Whether or not they’re successful is up to interpretation, but despite a few hiccups in production and songwriting, I think they’re well on their way to something resonant.
Opening with frenetic and tinny-sounding drums, “Burial Ground” challenges the listener with its nearly indistinguishable rhythm and painful production. After about thirty seconds of confusion (and wincing), I started to adjust and enjoy the sonic battering. The track improves over the course of its tenure, with more memorable riffing and structure added by Devlin Anderson’s gritty and guttural vocals. The drumming is fairly utilitarian, but that’s sort of a relief in a world of deafening triggers and razor-sharp manufacturing. On slower sections, it would be nice to hear more groove coming from the rhythm section, but they’ve got the right idea. This is not metal for those who like to have a ‘safe’ listening experience with no moments of awkward tension. There are unsteady moments throughout the record that make me question how effective this music is when performed live. Having never seen Nephelium in action, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
“Merciless Annihilation” sets out to fulfill its title, and it sounds a lot like what our parents think metal sounds like: muddy, aggressive, and dense as hell. There are sloppy blast beats aplenty, and Anderson’s vocals sort of become a parody of the genre as Coils of Entropy plays on. Don’t get me wrong, his tone is fantastic. But as far as enunciation goes? That’s a nonexistent element. I played this for a friend, who asked, “Wait. Are there lyrics?” Good question. There definitely are, and they’re probably about killing/mutilating/destroying, but Anderson’s violent vocals bleed with emotional intent, not content.
The end of “Halls of Judgement” has sick sludgy riffs, excellent drumming, and surprisingly tasteful and melodic solos. It’s moments like this that capture the band’s songwriting potential and showcase their ability to blend thrash and death metal to create blistering songs with dynamic form. One of the album’s best tracks, it makes up for some of the oddly frenzied and slushy sections that take place before it.
Closing with “Coils of Entropy”, there is a drawn-out and simple drum fill before launching back into battle. I can’t stress enough how much better production values would have helped this album. The material itself is solid, but the amateur garage band feel proved inescapable and kept me from taking Nephelium completely seriously. Nevertheless, this is a fun album, and there is something very compelling about Coils of Entropy. It’s as raw as a knee freshly skinned on jagged pavement, and that might just be what the immaculately produced and computerized metal scene needs right now.
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