Entropia - Total review
|Release date:||March 2023|
Entropia have been a bold musical force pretty much from the outset, and that’s only become more and more the case with each passing album. After an incredibly ambitious effort 5 years ago in the form of Vacuum, the Poles continue to defy genre and expectation with Total.
The first iteration of Entropia back on 2013’s Vesper would probably be most logically placed under the post-black metal umbrella, but even back then there was a boldness and unpredictability to the writing that placed them notably apart from other acts placed in that category, and Ufonaut’s psychedelic and progressive tendencies only further differentiated them from their peers. Vacuum then went and pretty much severed all existing ties with any established scene, featuring the kind of genre-free ingenious musical exploration that results in tags such as ‘psychedelic progressive black post-metal’ that both feel anally precise and woefully inadequate. Total had a lot to live up to, but it won’t surprise anyone familiar with the group to learn that this is just the latest spellbinding effort by the group.
As intimated above, if you’re new to the band and are looking for some kind of reference point, there’s not really much out there in terms of natural comparisons. Probably the most logical one I can think of is Oranssi Pazuzu, but that’s more due to both having psychedelic, avant-garde takes on black metal-related music, but the specifics don’t overlap too much. “Retox” is an immediately disarming opener, its convoluted blackened riffing a challenge to get a proper grip on. There are some solos weaved within that add dimensions to it, but “Retox” is pretty persistent in its approach, so the far calmer opening to “Mania” offers welcome respite. It’s a short-lived respite, but this proggier cut already shows some of the extensive range that Entropia have in their locker, as the slower tempo allows them to focus more on ominous atmosphere.
The curious thing about these two songs is how much time they dwell on a single idea or vibe; for “Retox”, it’s virtually the entire song, while for “Mania”, it’s more than half of it. The songs on Vacuum weren’t necessarily jumping all over the shop, but there were more distinct phases within most of them. “Orbit” is more in this vein than its predecessors; a mellow, jazzy intro morphs into more angular psychedelic blackened riffing, with some ear-drawing synths that make a similar impression to those on recent Oranssi Pazuzu albums. Considering there’s such a weirdness to this album, the sadder tones in the middle phases of this song do add a surprising amount of emotionality, which is also sustained in the 15-minute title track. The prog/post meanderings of this song, in combination with the synths, almost takes my mind to last year’s Path Of Might release. It’s a patient, elaborate, multi-faceted composition, and to my mind is probably the highlight of the record that shares its name.
In comparison to the various new ideas introduced on Vacuum compared to Ufonaut, Total is a less substantial switch-up in style. Arguably my take-home impression of it is that Entropia have slightly calmed down compared to last time out; excluding “Retox”, there’s not all that much here that really pushes the intensity in terms of speed or aggression, with a lot of the material a bit more spacious and atmospheric. It’s a transition that works well; while there could perhaps have been a bit more of the playfulness heard in the swing groove of Vacuum’s “Poison”, the more emotional tendencies heard here do work well (particularly the triumphant blackgaze portions of closing song “Final”), and the synth/electronic work across the album is again inventive and enthralling. Overall, Total is a really strong effort, and considering Entropia will probably have a whole new angle by the time they release something next, this is a nice sound to have heard them explore at least this one time.
||Written on 16.03.2023 by|
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