The United Arab Emirates, not exactly a region known for anything Metal. There aren’t that many bands there, but Metal-Archives does list 19 of them. The only one in that list that rings a bell to me is NERVECELL, who have so far released two very fine Death Metal albums. Following their colleagues, NEPHELIUM put out an album earlier this month, on the 7th February to be precise.
NEPHELIUM was formed in 2001, or the late 1990s as the band themselves write in their bio. The two originators of the band are guitarist Alex Zubair and drummer Alan Madhavan. More remarkably, it’s also the first Death Metal band to come out of the Middle East. The first release was the demo “Archaic Malevolent Sorcery” in 2002. The EP “Ignite The Wrath Of Silence” followed in 2004. After that, silence indeed, at least when it comes to releases. This is probably due to their moving to Canada, where they shared the stage with SKINLESS and DEICIDE. Other bands on the giglist would include NEURAXIS, BENEATH THE MASSACRE, BLACKGUARD and more.
But now, 8 years later, the debut full-length is out under the title “Coils Of Entropy”. Since NEPHELIUM is not yet signed, this is a self-release. It contains 6 tracks and a total playtime of over 40 minutes. The violent assault begins with “Burial Ground” where you get a clear indication of the raw and brutal Death Metal these guys bring. Low, demonic/monstrous growls with the occasional scream backed by raw, pure and technical brutality. No time for a break, this is one massive attack on the mind and ears. Yes, there’s room for a solo, too, followed by a slower part allowing for a bit of headbanging if you desire to do so. In this age of modern and polished productions, the old school touch is almost refreshing.
Then comes “Merciless Annihilation”, a track that can/could also be found on the “Ignite The Wrath Of Silence” EP. What’s on offer? Ferocious riffing and destructive blasting. The growls remain a constant and the music is basically one big ball of aggression, though with a key role for the drums, where Alan gives a demonstration of his skills. Changes in tempo, fills, … he does with remarkable ease. The guitar solo sounded a bit odd, but in a positive way. It made me think of old games, like on the NES back in the day. Musically and tempo-wise this song is more diverse than the previous song. The main focus is the rhythmic aspect of Death Metal.
And the assaulting continues with “Hellborne”. The blasting sure leaves small doubt in this case, however there is a slowdown for the chorus, I think. With all this growling and aggressive riffing, it’s not always easy to distinguish one part from the other. Like before, the band kept it all very technical. “Malediction” clocks in around 9 minutes and offers the same ingredients of before, though there’s a touch of Thrash as well (in the rhythm and drumming). During the solomoment the guys thankfully slow down a bit.
“Halls Of Judgement” offers change, amongst all the blasting and thunderstorms. You get midtempo Death Metal, the stuff that flows more smoothly. The blasts are not left out, come in occasionally, but are less prominent than before. The screams are now the prevailing factor in the vocal department. The second half is where the band chose a different direction, compared to the first. All I can say is: kudos for remembering it all, what to play, when and so on. “Coils Of Entropy” ends with the 10-minutes long title track, set in by the drums, after which hell is unleashed. On offer are the growls and blasts you were served in the previous songs, but despite its length this song was less varying than the others. Better said, less frequently varying. Not that it’s a problem, but it would have helped somehow.
Raw, brutal, old school Death Metal with quite some technical influences. I don’t know how NEPHELIUM sounded in their early years, but I have to admit that “Coils Of Entropy” sounds not only refreshing, but also mindblowing now and then. This is no record for each day (depending on your musical taste and how you feel, obviously) and several listens are advised to grasp it all. How the band (and especially Alan, the drummer) pulls it off live, I have yet to see, but I can only repeat what I said before: kudos for accomplishing this result. If you’re into CANNIBAL CORPSE, DEATH, VADER, NILE, SUFFOCATION, and so on, then be sure to check out NEPHELIUM.
- Burial Ground
- Merciless Annihilation
- Halls Of Judgement
- Coils Of Entropy
Devlin Anderson – vocals
Alex Zubair – guitars
James Sawyer – guitars
Flo Ravet – bass
Alan Madhavan – drums