I’ll be honest with you; the only reason I’m even passingly familiar with Entropia‘s existence comes from their commendable decision to sample a few lines of dialogue from the excellent (and yes, very brutal) Christopher Nolan film, The Prestige. The late David Bowie‘s tempered portrayal of an eccentric and misunderstood Nikola Tesla living out his days in a quasi-exile in Colorado Springs brings a wistful sort of conscience to the film’s dueling protagonists, and a story of such single-minded self-destruction couldn’t be more suited for a metal adaptation. That’s just low hanging fruit, metal bands, I’m doing your work for you here. Sadly for Entropia, those lines turned out to be a highlight of Vesper, and its uninventive blackgaze proved ultimately forgettable. Not so for Ufonaut, which trades in some of the band’s shoegazing for psychedelia, coalescing in a darker, heavier and much more mature album that’s worth far more than any allusion.
While the band takes a lot of post-metal influence from the likes of Isis and Wolves in the Throne Room, Ufonaut‘s use of psychedelic elements separates the album from the pack of modern post-black bands. Bubbly keyboards, echoing vocals and Nile-like melodies that spill out over multiple time signatures break up the tremolos and atmosphere expected after the band’s debut, and riches of riffage keep the lengthy songs from becoming stale too quickly. “Fractal” starts sludgy, but breaks up the rolling riffs with mixed meter melodies that smooth out a gradual build into the song’s more blackened center. Falling into the second half of the song, the song surges into a stellar melodic groove that Entropia absolutely fails to capitalize on. The rest of “Fractal” plows through with its post-metal wash, but never returns to any of the better ideas from the beginning.
Sadly, this blindness to their own strengths remains a problem for the rest of Ufonaut; there are great moments, but each one is quickly swept up by the next riff or the next strange synth melody. It ends up feeling a little bit like Between the Buried and Me; the songs are often disorganized and lack cohesion despite having a few stellar moments, sapping them of identity and memorability. Yet after so much confusion the album closes on a high note. The open atmosphere and soaring leads of “Veritas” feel conclusive and the song uplifting in that euphoric but dark way that post metal can when executed so well.
Ufonaut‘s drumming proves as dynamic as its riffcraft, as pummeler Patryk Budzowski throws quite a few curve balls into his blastbeat-heavy performance. Foxtrot cymbal play near the end of “Ufonaut” and a few proggy stomp beats in “Apogeum” liven up these winding, progressive songs and provide a counterpoint of subtlety to the psychedelic overtones produced by the keys. His partner in crime throbs along, imbuing tasteful basslines with a clang of down-tuned fret noise. Even at a very low bitrate (160 kbps? Sorry guys, my 9-inch floppy won’t hold all of that.), the album sounds good and the mix quite appropriate. There isn’t much space, but enough to lend weight to the heavily used reverb and keep the bass and guitar well separated.
I came in to this album expecting throwaway Deafheaven-aping or a shoegazey Alcest clone, but what came forth was heavier, darker, and more original than I could have hoped for. Ufonaut makes huge strides towards creating a real identity for Entropia, and with tighter songwriting their style is bound to produce great music in the future. This band still needs to grow before they release their best material, but if album three is as great a step forward as that from Vesper to Ufonaut, Entropia will be at the forefront of the packed and growing post-black genre.