Style: Symphonic Death/Black Metal
Release Date: 23 Sep 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives
Nine months of deep dive reviews and I'm finding my go to countries. I still feel surprised that Greece is one of them, but it's proving to be the hotbed for a whole slew of interesting bands from across the rock/metal spectrum. I see that Gentihaa, who are based in Athens, describe their sound as "fantasy themed symphonic death/black metal". That's at once fair and overly limiting because I'm hearing a heck of a lot more here than that.
In fact, what leapt out at me first were the doom metal vocals of Andre, who somehow manages to not seem like he's in the wrong band. What he does fits a band style that refuses to be any one thing. On Empathy, for instance, which is the first song proper, half of it plays to his doomladen vocals while the other half wants to be metalcore. The guitars seem to be death metal and the drums play in that black/death combination style. It's probably fair to say that I was confused for a while here.
Vision is more of a doom metal song, even if the drums remain fast. Sneak on over to Candlemass's dressing room and lace a barrel of mead with speed and this is what might result. It's interesting stuff though I have to add that I wasn't sold until Metamorphosis three tracks in, which is wild. Going back to listen through again, the early songs are fine, just not what I expected. After Metamorphosis, anything seemed like fair game.
Again, it starts out like a doom metal song with blastbeats, but it refuses to stay there. It finds some weird time changes. It gets all shouty. Before long it sounds like Candlemass and Voivod jamming in the studio with a guest singer from a band like Shadows Fall. There's even a quieter section that's very much like Voivod channelling Pink Floyd. The keyboards swell while the vocals loop and it's all rather psychedelic, man. I dug it a lot.
There's some of that in Alpha too, accompanied by eastern string work and a very different sound. Its long outro is impeccably constructed and flows on to Beyond wonderfully. If it took a few songs to hook me here, I was hooked hard. Beyond ups the tempo seriously, emphasising the metalcore side of the band's sound, with the doom side present for texture. It even finds a rather theatrical sound late on. The band's Facebook page does add to that earlier description, by including "heavy guitar riffs, multi-dimensional vocals and diverse rhythms". I like "multi-dimensional". It fits.
But wait, there's more. Command slows down for an intriguing quiet section that hints at a Spanish sound, but spends much of its time loud and raucous with squealing guitars. Mastery starts out with a symphonic feel, not just because of the vocals but through the guitar build, but then ramps up to be a thrash song. Gentihaa never shift on a dime the way that, say, Mr. Bungle does, but they move through a host of genres without really acknowledging a boundary at any point. The achingly slow outro is fantastic too.
What surprises me most here is that Gentihaa don't appear to have recorded anything before, at least in this particular form. The band formed in 2015 but this is apparently their debut. Each member came from other bands, but even there the genres are varied. Vocalist Andre, for instance, sang for a melodic death band called Wings in Motion, a thrash/groove band by the name of Memorain and even a parody band called, get this, Sonata Antarctika. The variety here does explain a lot.
I for one am eager to hear more and not only because Gentihaa are one more interesting band from Greece. All of this is good and some of it is really great. It bodes well for a bright future.