Over their decade in existence, Diabulus in Musica carved out a pretty lofty place for themselves with the top players of the Symphonic Metal universe. Albeit always with a slightly overdone classical component. A fact that we bemoaned already in our reviews of The Wanderer and Argia.
But still, Zuberoa Aznarez‘ siren’s song and her impressive classically trained vocal powers really hooked us petty much every time. Her contribution, together with Gorka Elso‘s growls, really made for the perfect team.
For quite a while the duo created an almost flawless Beauty and the Beast impression that not even Leaves’ Eyes could topple. Yet, even that started to grow stale after a while. Just too many wannabes and posers tried to jump on that very same train.
Then, Dirge for the Archons came along. A record with a welcome change towards a somewhat more sustained delivery. And a few notches up the ladder from where things stagnated in a pool of slightly rusty metal. This was genuine power, a willingness to go further than before, and a step away from this opera-heavy approach to metal music.
Now, all eyes are on Euphonic Entropy. Will the record continue with some gusto down this road they forged four years ago or will they fall back into their earlier ways? That is the burning question.
And truly, after a first listen, I was not too convinced. This sounded a lot like a re-run of past delights with some added amps. Some sort of Xandria-esque symphonic Power Metal that wafts your way like the odor of yesterday’s cold coffee.
Now – luckily – our fears did not materialize in quite that way.
Euphonic Entropy indeed presents itself in those typical symphonically tainted robes Diabulus in Musica likes to dress in. Yet, with some added energy from those very important metal vitamins.
Already the intro – for once – mystified me. A beginning with a slightly progressive flavor à la Lucassen that I found refreshing.
But then, as Race To Equilibrium took on steam, things started to take a different shape. Specifically, after Gorka Elso let loose with this newfound growly aggression that I already found refreshing on their former album. Euphonic Entropy really started to sound like some sort of cinematic Fleshgod Apocalypse with some Tarja-era Nightwish scrammed in for sport.
There’s also a sense of experimentation on this record. In Quest of Sense with its meaty Speed Metal airs contains a Spanish rap at mid-point, for instance. And it’s neatly done, too. It is always interesting how a little hip-hop will jack interest levels up, even in metal.
And then DiM present us with Otoi that gave us hope that power and innovation would gain even more importance. A refreshing, flute-laden, almost folksy melody that really got on our good side. Sometimes harsh, sometimes soft, but with a pretty sweet pull.
That it’s performed in Basque dialect, which is – so we are told – important to the band may sound cute. But this also ignited those slightly red warning lights. Weaponized metal with politics mixed in never bodes well. Lest you might end up in shadowy corners you really don’t want to be in. But I trespass, that would be fodder for a different article altogether.
So, back to the album.
Taking unknown paths can also backfire. The record whelped a few duds like The Misfit’s Deed that should better be confined to the dungeons. Or Blurred Dreams that sounds like something out of Elize Ryd’s poppy multiverse.
But the classical Into the Vortex beats everything into the dust. True, Diabulus in Musica just proved that they can write an opera. And Aznarez‘s classical abilities surely outmatch many of those glorified pros out there. But in metal, they just chose to repeat old sins committed by Epica or Fleshgod’s King that sit athwart all that good crunch that came before. On a cinematic founding of a thinly veiled Pirates of the Caribbean theme to boot.
The above notwithstanding, Euphonic Entropy artfully wave epic bombast into their piece, without bloating the record. They indeed continued down a more energetic road that so nicely started with Dirge of the Archons. With a darker, meatier, and weightier sound that fits their style better than those former offerings.
But is it an easy listen with a good flow? Not quite. It’s this stop ‘n’ go thing that finally got to me. On one hand, you get godspeed, Melodic and Symphonic Metal so complex and expertly executed that it will put other metal masters in the genre to shame.
And then – suddenly – you’ll get some atypical blurb that brutally disrupts all that metal rapture that may have been there in the first place. Things that make no sense and are seemingly injected as an afterthought.
In the end, there’s more to Euphonic Entropy than meets the eye and it is a good record after all. But it is also a piece that left me strangely unsatisfied with all of those scratchy loose ends that float about its lush soundscape.
I am already curious to see where DiM will take their outfit next. Let’s just hope they don’t wait for another four years. There’s work to do, and this record sounds a tad like unfinished business.