Years ago I fell in love with the first few albums from the band Pain of Salvation. I fell off hard with the release of BE, and honestly, never really got back on board with the band. But I always loved Daniel Gildenlow’s voice. It is powerful, extremely versatile, and one of my favorites. His ability to go from quiet, almost plaintive whispers to full on screams in short order not only impressed, but really got me hooked.
Interestingly, I just hadn’t realized how much I missed that. Enter Gentihaa, with their debut album Reverse Entropy. I discovered this gem thanks to the excellent write up over at Angrymetalguy.com. As a debut album from a Greek band, this was in no way on my radar at all. But the review was unique, entertaining, and sufficiently complementary that it piqued my interest. Even more, I was curious about the fact that Tom Englund, of the formidable Evergrey, had done guest vocals on 2 of the tracks.
Genrefication of music is a troublesome sport. It can be helpful, giving the listener some type of framework to anticipate the music. For example, if you tell me something is “technical death metal”, I have a decent idea of what I’m going to get. Well, AMG described Reverse Entropy as “power metal”. Yet the band describes themselves as “symphonic death/black metal”. Those are fairly differing genres right there my friend, yessiree. And then I started listening to the music. And I’d add in some “progressive metal” elements in there. So we have a real mashup of genres here.
And, well, it makes the music freaking rule!
To be fair, I just don’t see much of the “power metal” here. Sure, it is melodic, with some clean vocals and keyboards. But it entirely eschews any of the cheese and the keyboard theatrics that are so often associated with “power metal”. Rather, the vocals remind me more of the aforementioned Daniel Gildenlow than anything. They have many of the same qualities, particularly the versatility. The smoothly and effortlessly move from low whispers, gentle singing, almost death metal growls, and powerful screams. Add in the counterpoint of Tom Englund on two of the tracks, and you end up with one of the most interesting and engaging vocal records of the year.
But the rest of the band holds their own as well. The guitars have a wonderful, clean crunch to them. The drums are dynamic, with excellent fills and the oft-unheralded ability to move from double bass and blast beats to gentle drumming, as the songs demand.
Lyrically, it is apparently based on some piece of fiction on the internet. That sounds silly, and if they slavishly felt the need to tell this story, it would be beyond silly. Yet, exhibiting an almost uncommon restraint, the lyrics serve to build the overall dark atmosphere of the album, and don’t distract in any way. And dark this album is. It seethes with a sense of dread and menace. It keeps my just a tad on edge the entire time. I love that aspect, as it prevents it from ever falling into that cheese trap, the trap that so often can put me off from either power metal or even many progressive metal acts.
Again, I’d say this is more of a progressive metal album with some overtones of death metal. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and I actually wished some of the songs were a bit more fleshed out. But it keeps itself engaging throughout the entire running time. Expectations can be both good and bad, as can lack of. In this case, a complete lack of expectations has led to Reverse Entropy to come out of nowhere and become one of my favorite albums of 2019.