How do we as mortals engage with an inevitable end? This gradual decline into disorder is the muse explored on technical/progressive death metal project NYN’s Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt. NYN has been the solo project of Noyan Tokgozoglu (Carthage) since 2005. In order to realize the chaotic theme of the record, Noyan enlisted the help of guitarist Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager (ex-Obscura, Fountainhead) and keyboardist Jimmy Pitts (Pitts Minnemann Project, Eternity’s End, Equipoise). Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt will be available through Vmbrella on August 11; it is a towering tech death statement, but not always a comprehensible one.
The fifty-four second “The Mind Inverted” starts our descent into chaos with a synopsis of what’s to come: diverse guitars, unyielding blast beats, dense synth layers and some of the most resplendent lead lines in tech death. “The Apory of Existence” carries this momentum with interweaving rhythms and leads further layered with orchestral stabs and choral cadence. Within this seven and a half minute track, we are also introduced to circus-esque sections, vocoder vocals, several keyboard solos straight out of Jordan Rudess’ handbook, and various spoken word sections amidst death growls and brutal rhythms. In other words, NYN’s sound is exceptionally dense, even for the excess and ambition associated with tech death and progressive metal. Noyan explains: “The music reflects this [concept’s] chaos, with every member firing on all cylinders, playing riffs that complement and clash with each other, and the harmony born through their interplay.”
With the amount of disorder and diversity heard on this record’s sixty minute length, it can be difficult to differentiate between certain tracks. Thankfully, several songs retain some unique elements that can be latched onto amidst this sonic storm. On “Omnipotence Paradox”, Pitts’ symphonic layers and excellent piano work push the song past traditional tech-death terrain. C.J. Jenkins (A Sense of Gravity) and Hayato Imanishi (Cyclamen) add their diverse vocal performances to this formidable vortex of sound. Another standout is the experimental “Dissimulating Apologia” – it opens with what sounds like an attempt at throat singing over a pizzicato string section before the track is swallowed by NYN’s signature tech-death tirade. The dissonant shredding introduction that leads “The Hallway” is another one of the more distinct and memorable moments here.
Although I am very rarely tolerant of lengthy songs, the four-part “Maelstrom” is a set through which Tokgozoglu channels a fair amount of creativity in composition. At various times groovy, heavy, and atmospheric, the nearly fifteen minute movement has an oxymoronic variety and focus that is often missing throughout other parts of the record. This penultimate epic is followed by the closer “Taken Away By The Tides”, a song that is uncharacteristically straightforward and based on a victorious chugging riff/keyboard melody that is more akin to power metal than tech-death. Though Noyan’s desperate yells on the song are not particularly enjoyable to my ears, this track is certainly an optimistic end to the record, perhaps echoing the record’s theme. Noyan explains, “Fundamentally, Entropy is about acceptance, of the chaos that surrounds us, of our futility to make sense of it and direct it.”
NYN’s Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt is an undeniably overflowing, frenetic record that abounds with the excesses of technicality, arrangement, and instrumentation that you might associate with Archspire-like tech-death and Dream Theater-esque progressive metal. The group’s focus on channeling chaos is achieved here, undoubtedly. However, the achievement of this aim may come at the expense of enjoyment – these songs may be purposefully over-saturated and disorganized, but this intentionality does not excuse the absence of appreciable melodic themes or the general lack of dynamics on the record. This record demands a great deal of work from the listener, and this is expected for fans of this genre. My fear is that the record’s intentionally unfocused intensity may deter listeners from putting in the effort to appreciate this impressive work.
Notable Tracks: “Omnipotence Paradox”; “Dissimulating Apologia”; “Maelstrom”
FFO: Archspire, Dream Theater, A Sense of Gravity