Artist: Nephelium

Title: Coils of Entropy

Type: Album

Label: Self Released

Out there in the wider world is a vast, untapped source of underground metal. No longer does great extreme metal just come from Europe and theAmericas(not that this was ever necessarily the case). Nephelium, originally from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, (now based in Toronto) are here to prove that as fact, with their punishing debut album `Coils of Entropy’.

The first thing I can say about this band is that they really know how to write a riff. This is brutal, aggressive and extreme in lots of ways, but when it comes to truly crushing, heavy, headbanging riffs, Nephelium know exactly how to push all the right buttons. Those who enjoy the sheer weighty heaviness of death metal at its best should relish the music on this album.

In fact, Nephelium’s music is both satisfying and intriguing in lots of different ways. There is a large amount of fantastic, old-fashioned death metal grimness in there; lots of fast, Slayer-like beats, chugging heavy riffs which hit you like a juggernaut in the face, more crunch than a one tonne carrot, and some brilliantly played, epic guitar solos. I can hear hints of classic Morbid Angel in there;   dramatic, dark and theatrical riffs with insane solos drifting over the top. Occasionally they squeeze in some subtle Arabic influences, which really add some extra, unique atmosphere to the proceedings, without overdoing it. They don’t skimp on the brutality either; there is a healthy dose of bone-crunching Suffocation/Unmerciful style smashing and pounding peppering all the songs.

The Suffocation influences don’t stop there; vocalist Devlin Anderson delivers a convincing, guttural roar similar in style to Frank Mullen. It sounds like the kind of roar a furious gorilla would make if gorillas made death metal. My only gripe with it is that I wish it was just a little clearer; Frank Mullen manages to deliver a furious, bestial growl which is also crystal clear and precise in its pronunciation. Devlin’s vocals are almost there, but not quite.  There is also a strange section in the track `Malediction’, where Devlin appears to turn in John Tardy (or is it Scooby Doo?), and then Tom Araya for a few seconds! A tribute to their heroes maybe, but it sounds somewhat odd just thrown in there.

My only other complaint is that for all the bands talent, the songs are not all that memorable. There are only six tracks on the album, and to be fair you certainly get your money’s worth; all six tracks are quite lengthy. One song has a tendency to merge into the other. However, what you have instead are some fantastic death metal moments throughout the album; great brutal pounding, dark epic sections, raging fury, crushing heaviness, and great playing throughout. There is no doubt that Nephelium have a huge amount of talent, and if they could only focus it just a little more, I have no doubt that they will go on to great things in the future. For the moment however, they have released a solid, crushing debut album which will definitely pick them up some new fans.

(7/10 Jon Butlin)