Review Summary: Behold 2016's first metal masterpiece
When deathcore titans Animosity broke up following the release of their 2007 masterpiece Animal, it seemed liked they would never create music together in any capacity ever again. So when it was announced in January 2015 that the 3/5 of the Animal-era lineup (drummer Navene Koperwies, bassist Evan Brewer, guitarist Frank Costa) were teaming up with Systems vocalist Chaney Crabb for a new progressive-tinged technical death metal band named Entheos, Animosity fans everywhere were overcome with shock and delight. Entheos' debut EP Primal, which was released last March, was a tad bit underwhelming considering the level of talent involved, but it showed some bursts of serious potential and proved that every member of the band was still at the top of their game musically. Thanks to the several months they took between finishing Primal and starting the recording process for their first full-length to tighten up their musical vision, Entheos has firmly found their footing on The Infinite Nothing, which is one of the most stunning and crushing debut extreme metal albums in recent history.
The songwriting approach employed on The Infinite Nothing is a pretty radical departure from the norm for tech death. While there's certainly a healthy amount of noodling leads and blast beats, Entheos is far more concerned with keeping the listeners on their toes with near-constant tempo shifts and bizarre experimentation than simply bowling them over with their immense technical ability. Perhaps the best indicator of Entheos' bold, no-holds-barred approach to the genre comes on the insane opening track "Perpetual Miscalculations". Within the first two minutes of the five-plus minute song, the listener is treated to an onslaught of sweet groove riffs from Costa, an eerie-synth interlude that sounds like it came out of an '80s horror movie and most notably, an entire section where one of Brewer's signature slap bass lines serves as the main riff. The best part about all of these constantly moving parts is that each one of them flows organically together and nothing ever sounds like its been shoehorned in just for the hell of it.
"Perpetual Miscalculations" is merely the start of the unrelenting chaos this album offers up in droves. Standout tracks "Mind Alone" and "New Light" regularly tow the line between tornado-esque mathcore, Perturbator-inspired electronica and prog-death metal opus while the blistering "An Ever-Expanding Human" is punctuated by a beautiful, sprawling outro solo that sounds like it was an outtake from The Faceless' Planetary Duality sessions. That feeling of never knowing what's coming next makes the entire album a relentless and enthralling adventure that never comes anywhere close to sounding stale or derivative.
The music may serve as the backbone for the bedlam of The Infinite Nothing, but Entheos' deadliest weapon is Crabb. For those who are unfamiliar with Crabb's previous work, she came up in the mathcore genre and her well-established comfort with constantly changing musical styles and tempos on a whim makes her the perfect choice to lead Entheos' frenzied attack. Her arsenal of screams that range from guttural lows to full-on shrieks allow her to effortlessly match whatever tempo the band is playing at any given moment without ever sounding uncomfortable or over-matched. It takes a vocalist with an exception amount of talent and versatility to not get overshadowed by the musicians in this absurdly technical style of music and Crabb is just that.
After a pretty disappointing start to 2016, The Infinite Nothing is the swift kick in the ass the metal scene needed right now. This is exactly the type of unpredictable and unrelenting assault on the senses I had hoped for from a band featuring three former members of Animosity and the vocalist of a highly underrated mathcore band. It'll be interesting to see if the band can continue to plug along at this level with new guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Costa was kicked out of the band shortly after The Infinite Nothing was recorded) in the fold, but for now I'll just sit back with a huge grin and appreciate how much joy listening to The Infinite Nothing brought me.