Review Summary: Both the firmness of crushing metal shreds and the drifting of shapeless “entities”.
My humble experience with Entities latest album Aether:
I'm listening, thinking to myself: “yeah this is metuhl, standard, brutal metal”. Wait. Where are those ambient noises coming from? Like a sound experiment on drifting tones. It must be coming from one of the many browser tabs I have opened. *sifts through browser tabs. The extra ambiance goes away on its own. Oh, there we go. Nope. The ambiance comes back on its own, full blast as the metal riffs are consumed by the swirling drifts of droning chimes. This is Entities!
This was my first experience with the metal group known as Entities. Apparently they create a variety of metal that sows together heavy riffs and thundering double kicks with the sonic atmosphere of a Brian Eno project. Well, maybe that comparison is an exaggeration. Forgive me Sputnik! My point is their music is both the firmness of crushing metal shreds and the drifting of shapeless “entities”. Hah, it all makes sense now. “Entities”.....titties...
The most significant struggle I encountered in listening to this album is the contrast between the riffage and the ambiance. At first, it seemed like a conflict that would end up breaking this album. The guitars feel confined to a body of carefully crafted and structured riffs. These riffs (chord progressions and lead shreds) feel like they take up physical space within the realm of the album. The lead guitar glides above the landscape of riffs at times. Their guitarist moves wildly around the fret board sweeping and picking high pitched notes. In my analogy, the “physical” aspects of the music are the growling vocals, blistering drums, bass, and lead guitars. The other side of their sound is the spacious dynamic created by synths and filtered guitars. To me this side sounds like the “non-physical” side, the floating, blissful side. This “ambient” side is defined by soft, elongated tones that drift and swirl about. This side takes Entities' music from a standard two-dimensional metal affair, into a multidimensional mind***.
My struggle with Aether, at first, was the “physical” and “non-physical” sides clashing and seeming to throw off the balance of Entities' musical universe. (If you don't know what the *** I'm talking about, go back and read the previous paragraph). The droning tones are, at specific junctures, in absolute contrast to the core progression. Entities begins their song Lines of Descent with a sporadic fury of riffs that groan along under the calm swaying of dissonant tones. The contrast can be grating and confusing on one level, but after listening to this extensively, the distinct sides of Entities' universe start to make sense. Ultimately, the contrast emerging from combining the two sides becomes one of the most endearing features of this music. The overlapping styles and tempos makes the whole piece more interesting.
The instrumental progressions on Aether are stellar. The tones and production value are all in check. The technicality of the riffs are exciting, although they could be classified as “typical” depending on your familiarity with progressive metal music. Progression and riff wise, there's not much new in the way of the genre. This album is done well, no matter how you look at it. The one feature that brings this project ahead of the same old, is that dissonant, spacious element I discussed earlier. I'll give this a 3.5 for covering all the bases of a high quality prog-metal album, along with developing a fresh, adventurous soundscape. They would have scored higher with more variety in their writing. The group is still new, so I have high hopes that they'll progress into even fresher territory.
Overall this is a great experience, some solid ambient progressive metal here. It's worth streaming to see if you dig.