Review Summary: Dejection never tasted so good.
A djentier, proggier friend of mine once suggested I try my ears to Entheos; an American, progressive deathcore band with a love for the groove (pretty solid stuff!). Thus, I punched the band's name into Bandcamp and was pleasantly surprised to find that a lesser known band with the same name had published a considerably better record that very day. New York may have proven to be metal's city of madness in recent years, but the French (Canadian or otherwise) are the undisputed kings of melancholic obscurity. And no band better proved this in 2015 than Quebec's own Entheos.
"Ototeman" is a hard record to pin down as almost every song sounds influenced by different artists. However, Entheos somehow managed to hold their own and push a consistent tone for the entire duration of the album. Fusion of later Deathspell Omega and Ulcerate, paired with the somewhat jazzy lucidity of Fen would be an indicator of the album's overall tone. A good deal of the riffing brings to mind the early years of black metal, but the bass playing and lead guitars often create dissonance and tones that comply more with current acts. The bass work on this album is nothing short of brilliant; it is a rarity to see bass being used to induce such discordance while still holding down the low end near-flawlessly. Paired with some stunning electric and acoustic guitar work, "Ototeman" becomes a cacophony of despair without trying excessively to be avante-gard.
An interesting aspect of "Ototeman" that is often neglected in the more extreme sides of black metal is it's keen sense of restraint. Songs ebb and flow in a fashion extremely mature for a debut album. No excessive blast-beats, no atonal riffing for the sake of being atonal. And while the guitars are the driving force for "Ototeman" (and do uses atonality), the drumming is without a doubt the star of the show. Fills and complex interplay are present, but where percussion truly shines is in the contrast between dynamics. Groovy, smooth rhythms line acoustic and clean guitar play, before building to massive crescendos without fail. The vocals may not match up against the fantastic instrumental performances, but they do provide some pretty effective nightmare fuel in the form of mid-to-high shrieking. The brilliance of musicianship throughout the album is pushed to further heights by the wonderful production that is crisp and dynamic, while still retaining gritty aspects of black metal we know and love.
It's not often a black metal record grips me for as long as this has. Every listen reveals new intricacies in the instrumental play, and every listen is just as (if not more) depressing as the last. Entheos weren't trying to make the most kvlt, extreme, obscvre record of 2015; they simply wanted to serve a slice of depression that was palatable. This record is stunning from beginning to end, with not a second wasted. And even while "Ototeman" dishes out some intensely visceral work, breathing time is always provided in form of some beautiful clean and acoustic guitar work. It's cold, it's harsh, it's gloomy, and even so, dejection never tasted so good.