Review : NEPHELIUM – "Coils of Entropy"

NepheliumCoils of Entropy
Release: 2012Feb07
Label: Self-released
Rating: 3.5/5

When you get a minute, go ahead and check the Encyclopaedia Metallum for metal bands based in the United Arab Emirates. Go on… I’ll wait (and even give you a head-start), just come on back after.

Alright—you saw, like, not even twenty bands, correct? Dig a little deeper, and you’ll notice no more than a dozen active, as of this post. Despite growing assent, recent efforts like the (now-defunct) Dubai Desert Rock Festival and media attention in the Global Metal documentary, it’s difficult to maintain a metallic foothold; pop music is more marketable, regardless of region. So while true that the message is spreading, it makes sense that a band like Nephelium would stake a claim in Toronto rather than Dubai.

Before I became ensconced in Coils of Entropy, my eyes saw ‘tech death’ before my ears told me otherwise. Perhaps it was the bright colors and use of purple (like The Faceless Planetary Duality), or maybe the way their logo looks like Illogicist, only taller and pointier.

Still—symmetry, letter width… pretty close?

What struck me strangely was their age—the band has been around for over a decade. It’s been a rocky road, with cycling members and side projects explored (drummer Alan Madhavan even played as a session musician with Dubai brethren Nervecell on their Human Chaos EP back in 2004); not to mention eight years since their last proper recording.

But man, is this ever tight. The best part about Coils of Entropy is the sound, which feels modern from its recording process, yet is brutal old-school ’90s-style in the band’s execution. Founding guitarist Alex Zubair expertly extracts Azagthothian yowls, like toward the end of “Merciless Annihilation”, and even unleashes sweet speedy tradeoffs between he and second axeman James Sawyer on “Hellborne” and the title track. The latter tune finds slight dabbling in Middle Eastern melodies, but this is rare throughout the album. Should they develop this, they would come across as more Melechesh and less Vader, which would help distinguish them better, especially since this was promised in press releases.

Nephelium are musically impressive, if nothing else, and each member is given special time to shine. Vocalist Devlin Anderson surprised me as “Malediction” crept into minute eight, unfurling infernal gurgles that mutated into tortured shrieks. Even bassist Florian Ravet isn’t forgotten, as his emerging bass often hails oncoming pandemonium. When digesting the pièce de résistance title track, it helps to have the lyrics in front of you—this tune is doubly daunting at twice the length (slow softball for a penis joke …and so was that).

Anyway, I just finished Seasons 1 & 2a of The Walking Dead, so there’s death and apocalypse already on my platter. Both that show and Nephelium excel when they are in motion; just as TWD is hampered by whispered discourse, Coils of Entropy distracts with prose. The verbose “Preface” and midalbum “Narrative” are excessive, when the individual songs could simply speak for themselves. While Nephelium should ultimately devise a more unique attack with creative weaponry, this is still a deadly first strike. Commence the decay!

01. Burial Ground
02. Merciless Annihilation
03. Hellborne
04. Malediction
05. Halls of Judgement
06. Coils of Entropy

~MetalMattLongo

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