Album Review: DIABULUS IN MUSICA Euphonic Entropy
Spanish quartet Diabulus in Musica has devoted the last decade or so to earning their place amongst their symphonic metal brethren. Currently comprised of vocalist Zuberoa Aznáres, drummer David Carrcia, guitarist Alexey Kolygin, and keyboardist Gorka Elso, they aptly describe their sound as blending “the passion of classical music with the most heartbreaking and modern metal.” Put another way, their mixture of multi-language lyricism (such as Spanish, English, and even Basque)—coupled with enticing songwriting and comparatively sundry and peculiar instrumentation—makes their music relatively special. Thankfully, their latest LP, Euphonic Entropy, is no exception. Inspired by the birth of their second child, Aznáres and Elso aimed to “fill their new album . . . with all the wonderful, yet chaotic emotions a new life brings.” Indeed, the record infuses certain genre guidelines with levels of exquisite orchestral rejuvenation, eclectic arrangements, and moving attitudes that few of their contemporaries ever rival.
Obviously, one of the band’s biggest strengths is their classical leanings, and as usual, Diabulus in Musica waste no time demonstrating that here. For instance, they begin this fifth sequence with a sweeping instrumental prelude, “A Lucid Chaos.” It’s more soothing and surreal than, say, “Battle of Atlantis”—which kicked off 2016’s Dirge for the Archons—with a fine dose of digital percussion adding to its distinctive flair. That said, there’s still a healthy amount of sweeping strings, woeful horns, and choral chants to convey an air of emboldened conquest and worrisome realization. Afterward, pieces like “Race to Equilibrium,” “In Quest of Sense,” “Our Last Gloomy Dance,” and “One Step Higher” utilize those timbres (to varying degrees) in conjunction with narrative male and/or female bellows that wouldn’t be out of place in a Greek tragedy. Each is ornately catchy and splendidly developed, proving that the group is adept at crafting compelling melodies (with lovely poeticisms) first and foremost; from there, they employ over-the-top scores to complement—rather than compensate for—that fundamental dynamic.
Nevertheless, Euphonic Entropy impresses most when it strays furthest from stylistic clichés and goes into fairly original and daring territory. In particular, “The Misfit’s Swing”—which Aznáres describes as “the song for you all unique people!”— is a hypnotically weird and wild celebration of individuality. It even starts with old-fashioned radio static before becoming a high-octane musical party, with Aznáres singing sentiments such as “What if you think I am weird? / You won’t control how I feel” around fun-loving symphonic exuberance (walking bass lines, cheerful horns, and the like). Clearly, it evokes the irresistible madness of artists like Major Parkinson, Diablo Swing Orchestra, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Afterward, “Otoi,” “Nuevo Rumbo,” “Blurred Dreams,” and closer “In the Vortex” offer growls and operatic outcries, acoustic guitar strums, softer structures (i.e., ballads), and eccentric keyboard timbres to channel the wide-ranging variety of Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, and Vangough.
Euphonic Entropy builds upon everything that makes Diabulus in Musica an extraordinary act. It can feel a bit samey at times, sure, but it’s never enough to hurt the overall impact of the material or take away from how much the quartet does to maintain its own identity. Each track houses enough distinguishing parts to feel individualized while also allowing the LP to flow with sufficient cohesion and direction. As a whole, then, Euphonic Entropy is also a testament to the fact that a little extra textural boldness and range can really help a band stand out from the pack.