I believe Unhealable Scars is only an EP, but it runs forty seconds longer than Reign in Blood, even with only five songs on offer, so I'm thinking of it like a short album. It's from a Saudi Arabian band called Entropia, who only formed last year but who have already got this far, with another single from last year that inexplicably didn't make the cut. The second single, Born Unknown, did, so why did they leave off Son of Dracula? Answers on the back of a postcard, as always.
They play a melodic form of doom/death metal that's very accessible but also very varied. It kicks off with Hopeless almost a grunge song with a doom filter applied to it, right down to the vocals, but then a harsh voice takes over, deep and resonant, and things settle down into more traditional territory for a while. It stays a highly unusual song, though, with the styles shifting and some perky drums from Hassan popping in at points, almost like I'd expect from commercial era Genesis.
I got used to this fresh take on doom/death reasonably quickly and started to really dig the ideas on show. Chaos in Silence starts out almost new wave, with dominant keyboards, but it eventually settles down. It continues to alternate between clean and harsh voices, but the clean one sounds less grunge and more folk on this one, even if both are supplied by the same man. Certainly, I see Abdullah AlGhamdi listed on vocals and nobody else. The riffs are heavier and the beat is quicker, reminding of points of Bucovina. I dug the guitars of Khaled C here even more.
And I dug them still more on Born Unknown, because they're elegaic as the song opens, the doom sourced from grief. They're very simple but very effective. And then we're back at full speed, fast doom with that harsh voice layered over everything. Born Unknown and No Eternity work well as a pair dealing with that cycle of grief, the sad acceptance of the solo piano that closes out the latter working well as a bookend to the guitar intro to the former. The journey between those two points is a tumultuous one, especially with No Eternity surely the doomiest piece here.
And that leaves the title track, which adds some prog into the guitar, which is yet another flavour to the mix. So this is grounded in doom, but the frequent harsh voice and pace make doom/death an appropriate definition. However, it's often faster and sometimes perkier than we expect doom to be, and it moves into alternative, folk and prog at points, not to forget regular heavy metal. It never seems to be downtuned, so guitar sections can sometimes remind us of Iron Maiden just as much as Paradise Lost. It's a tasty mix and an unusual one, which always perks up my ears.
This is only the second album I've reviewed from Saudi Arabia, after Creative Waste, but the two would seem to be wildly different in almost every way. Entropia are new, but Creative Waste have been around for a couple of decades. Entropia are based in the capital, Riyadh, at the heart of the country, while Creative Waste are a long way on the gulf coast. Entropia play an unusual mix of an array of genres, while Creative Waste are relatively straight forward old school grindcore. Clearly they're not too examples of a single scene but I'm eager to discover what else is going on in Saudi Arabia, just as I'm eager to hear more from Entropia.
This works well as a teaser, but I want to hear a full album. Maybe this does work as an EP far more than it does an album. Whatever it is, I salute its creativity, especially from such a young band.