It finally happened! The Sacramento based Progressive-Groove-Metal Quartet Entities finally released their highly anticipated debut full length album ‘Novalis’ 10 days ago. With the release of their 2 Eps ‘Luminosity’ (2011) and ‘Aether’ (2013), Entities built up a solid fanbase which made them much more than just an insider tip of the progressive metal scene.
Originally scheduled for the 23rd of December 2014, the actual album release had to be pushed back twice due to finishing/mixing issues with the album. But this delay wasn’t necessarily bad for the band because it boosted the anticipation of the fans that were waiting patiently for new music. When ‘Novalis’ finally came out on the 15th of January, it became the second best-selling album on bandcamp in less than 24 hours.
Still, what is it that makes the album so special? Let me give you some basic information about ‘Novalis’ first digging deeper into analyzing the songs. The album has a total length of 46 minutes and features 12 songs. Lyrically there isn’t a cut story through the whole album, but there is a theme that reoccurs throughout several songs, states Ian Robertson, Entities’ vocalist. Some songs revolve around the theme:
“making changes in your life and seeking out new experiences to be a more ‘well rounded individual’ , while others are about building relationships with people that last, learning to think in a more objective/empirical way and getting over depression”.
Musically, they focused on what they do best: grooving with djenty riffs over spheric, sometimes disharmonic, but always interesting lead guitars. While keeping their roots in mind, Entities somehow managed to experiment with new styles, which definitely makes ‘Novalis’ pretty interesting.
But let’s start at the beginning: the first song ‘Oni’ features everything that the fans love about Entities: an atmospheric synthesizer intro followed by heavy chugs and a continuously playing lead guitar. About halfway through an electronic Interlude kicks in. The song ends with heavy break at the end. So far nothing too special, just a solid, typical Entities song.
The second song, ‘Esuna’ basically follows the same concept, the most interesting thing about it is the appearance of the first of all in all three guest artists on the album: Nick Arthur, vocalist of Molotov Solution.
‘Synthetic Divinity’, the following track, was the first outstanding song on the album for me. It starts with a typical djent groove that shades into a pretty catchy chorus followed by fast staccato riffs. A solo vocal break ends the typical Interlude and the song ends ambient leads. Great stuff.
Track number four, ‘Azure’ is a perfect example of how the band progressed. The guitarwork is on point and I think this song would sound even better as an instrumental version because you could actually hear all the details of it. ‘Azure’ is one of the most melodic songs they’ve ever written and I love it.
One of my favorite songs on the album by far is the next song, ‘Genetic Drift’, a song that has the perfect mixture of heaviness and melody. The first half of the song consists of constant 8 string grooves until my favorite part of the album kicks in: a beautiful, ambient sounding breakdown that initiates the second part of the song. The focus now lays on tuneful ambience and I almost got a ‘Volumes-esque’ feeling of it.
The album continues with the track ‘Paramnesia’, in my opinion the weakest track on the album. I can’t even say why, I just find it hard to get into the song because the leads sound somehow off.
‘Paramnesia’ finishes the first half of the album and, just like on every Entities release before, the listener gets to hear a relaxing instrumental interlude that allows some the time to let the previous songs sink in and to prepare for the finish.
‘Crestfallen’, the following track, seemed to be a boring track after the first listen but I got into it after some time and I realized that it’s pretty interesting. Constant tempo changes and a spacey atmosphere dominate the song. Both the vocals and the lyrical content are great, I’d generally suggest you to read the lyrics while listening to the album, they are pretty interesting to read and fit perfectly to the music.
Track number nine, ‘Spirits’, seemed to be one of the rather less interesting ones on the album. The riffs sounded repetitive and the first two minutes weren’t too interesting. But after a heavy break around the 2 minute mark the song gets better and ends with an amazing guest solo by Modern Day Babylon guitarist Tomas Raclavsky, guest artist number two. I wish Entities would write more solos on their records, it would improve the sound of their music a lot.
‘Chrysalis’ is up next and pretty groove oriented. It features the most interesting guest artist, Matt Youkhana, vocalist of the Australian ‘rap metal’ band Devastator. He laid down some pretty sick and fast rap vocals in the middle of the song. Some people will love it, some will hate it. Personally, I think that it fits great and definitely adds to the ‘interesting’ factor of ‘Novalis’. Great song for sure.
The last two tracks ‘Adversity’ and ‘Return to Reform’ are what you may call the typical showoff-sy tracks by the band where they display the ability to create music that is super heavy while still being melodic and highly atmospherical. They are a great ending of an album that has been worth every single day of the wait.
‘Novalis’ is by far the best Entities release yet, in terms of production and songwriting. The album is a great mix of heaviness, groove, spacey atmospheric tones and melodies. Don’t expect a super techy, skill showcasing album, because that’s definitely not what Entities are about. Don’t judge it after the first listen, it may need time to grow on you. It took me about three or four listens until I enjoyed it 100%, but now I am totally in love with it. I’m sure that ‘Novalis’ will make an appearance in my AOTY list of 2015.
Get the album here.
FFO: Aristeia / Substructure