Equations often hang on the mercy of one variable. If you tweak that variable, numbers, affects, trends, and orders of magnitude dance and spin at your beck and call. If you tweak it too far, however, all those beautiful structures come crashing down in chaos. Sometimes, that variable creeps up on you; as you construct your model, you arrange things such as that a variable like that is made, perhaps not intentionally. For death metal, by design or by virtue of the elements which make up the genre, this variable can be many things but brutality is often the culprit. How do you make something that’s heavy enough to make an impact but doesn’t leave the listener feel overwhelmed or simply disinterested, made jaded by the sheer pomposity of what they hear?
There have been many excellent answers to this question throughout 2019 but it seems as if the dog-end of the year has one more in store for us: Teeth‘s The Curse of Entropy. This is an album which walks the line between “too much” and “just enough” with alarming precision, often coming close to spilling over its own boundaries but never quite losing the ball. By combining overwhelming, technical riffs with an almost unbearable heaviness of tone and approach, The Curse of Entropy weaves one of the most abrasive and convincing tapestries of the year. To fully understand the album, we must return to that question of the variable of death metal and pay close attention to how Teeth constantly tweak and adjust it to produce the sound the project deserves.
From the get-go, on opener “Enlever”, we are hit with fast, unstoppable riffs backed by guttural vocals of the dirtiest order. The drums, somehow, keep up, blasting infernal beat after beat. This is a “cold cut”; there’s no preparation, there’s no time to acclimate, just furious, in your face death metal that hits like a buzz-saw. The variable, that metaphorical knob of aggression which makes death metal work, starts all the way up to eleven, blasting us with the violence that lies deep within the code of this album, the grindcore part of things. However, where other bands might have kept on chugging (literally), Teeth veer somewhat to the side with the next track, “Husk”. Sure, things are still plenty aggressive but there’s a different, more “cosmic” feeling to the riffs now, echoing bands like Mithras or Gorguts. There are open chords mixed in with the fury now, creating a more spacious, haunting sort of feelings, channeling the coldness of the void into the piping hot molten metal of Teeth’s death metal sound. By the time the breakdown hits around the two minutes mark, your head should be good and swimming.
From here, the album will oscillate between these two sounds, creating the thick, unpronounceable, unpinnable matrix that is The Curse of Entropy. These two sounds, that of death metal on the cusp of deathgrind and the cosmic, hinted-at coldness of more technical/progressive aspects of death metal, is what makes this album tick and tick loud, like there’s an atom bomb hidden in every riff, intro, sweep, and growl. Which, indeed, there is; The Curse of Entropy constantly keeps surprising you, springing heaviness beyond what you thought was coming. This is the secret of the variable, to give the skilled adjuster of it the ability to swim elegantly between the parts and bring forth from them, constantly, a new whole. Teeth do this immeasurably well, creating one of the more bewilderingly heavy albums of 2019.
. . .
The Curse of Entropy was released on November 29th. Do yourself a favor and head on over to the Bandcamp link above to purchase it.