Acolyte – Entropy
Wild Thing Records, Blood Blast Distribution
Release Date: 14/05/2021
Running Time: 56:50
Review By Beth Jones
Greetings all. I’m feeling philosophical for today’s review, so please bear with me, and indulge me for a moment, if you would be so kind…
Being a human is a complicated old business, right? When faced with seemingly endless detritus, life can be testing and draining quite a lot of the time. However, it can also be joyful, exhilarating, and exuberant, lifting you from the darkest pits, to touching the sky. But the thing that fascinates me about human existence is emotional connection. How something, or someone, can inspire a feeling that brings a sense of togetherness and knowing. That empathy is vital for me, and music often inspires it. I find myself constantly looking for the emotional inspirations that lie behind compositions, so I can empathise with the songwriter and feel what they felt. So, when emotions are layered and laid bare for all to see, throughout a body of work, it becomes something very special, going far beyond connection alone, and into the realms of embodiment.
Keeping those thoughts in mind, I would like to tell you a little about Australian Cinematic Progressive Metal band, Acolyte, and their recently released concept album, “Entropy”. The concept behind the album is the early stages of loss, and the emotions connected to it. This is a connection that every one of us can make. I was also interested to read that lead vocalist Morgan-Leigh Brown suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Having Fibro and hEDS myself, I can connect with her struggles straight off the bat, too. And Acolyte say the music features “authentic choir arrangements, extensive analogue synth labs, percussion labs, and a full hoard of Melbourne’s very best classical performers”,which is again a special area that holds a lot of emotive memories of my early years performing in choirs and orchestras.
When you feel connected to music straight away, there’s always slight trepidation about your first listen; the desire and need for it to live up to what you imagine it will sound like. But it became apparent very quickly that “Entropy” would not only meet my expectations, but surpass them. The level of musical thinking is brilliant, and the technical ability of each player matches completely with the passion and feeling that this album required.
After a short prelude, the album launches into the title track, ‘Entropy’. I think a lot of us feel connected to an overbearing sense of entropy at the moment, so it is indeed a most fitting title. It’s a dark and menacing opening to this superb album, full of powerful vocals, orchestrated harmonies, classic synth, and complex riffs, all held together by a rhythmic pulse from the bass and percussion. It’s proggy, with a beautiful instrumental section driven by synth halfway through, but it’s not overbearing, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Lyrically, this song paints a desolate but relatable picture. I implore everyone to read the lyrics for this album. They are a masterstroke in themselves.
The album continues to track those powerful early emotions of loss with ‘Resentment’, an angrier and punchier track, that’s full of heavy riffs, doesn’t hang around long. From there, it moves into ‘Clarity’, which is a calmer track, and full of 70’s prog rock sounds. The opening reminds me very much of The Enid’s ‘Judgement’. Superb harmonies and cinematic orchestration swell and grow throughout. Again, this track holds some beautifully pertinent lyrics, one of which spoke loudly to me; “The hardest thing in life is to know yourself”.
Now, much as I would like to, I’m not going to give you a track-by-track account here, because, let’s face it, you don’t really want to read my exuberant gushing for any longer than is necessary! But take it from me that the rest of the album is as breathtaking as the first few tracks. It’s pure cinematic orchestral prog, written and performed to perfection, with a depth of feeling that is very, very impressive.
It’s also worth noting that the classical instrumentation in this album is all real, not sampled. It’s performed by some of Melbourne’s most noted classical musicians, and perfectly complements the compositions. A brilliant example of this is found in my favourite track, ‘Idiosyncrasy’. This starts with a clarinet solo, which adds to the haunting eeriness of realisation on the album. At a little over 11 minutes long, it’s the longest piece, moving through slower instrumental areas, into sections where rhythm is the leader, with powerful vocals, intricate synth, and chunky riffs. I’ve run out of fancy words to describe stuff now, so I’ll just say that it’s a bit bloody good. And by that, of course, I mean it’s damn amazing.
The album takes an instrumental twist towards the end, in ‘Solitude’, and ‘Recovery’, which provides a moment to assess and regroup, taking stock of every emotion that has been laid bare so far, to reach a point of acceptance. And perfectly, the final track is entitled ‘Acceptance’.
And now I’m going to stop chewing your ears off. It’s not often that an album like this comes along, but when it does, it’s magical. Without question one of the finest albums you will hear this year. Mind blown.
‘Entropy’ (Official Video)
Morgan-Leigh Brown – Vocals
David Van Pelt – Keys and Synths
Jason Grondman – Bass
Chris Cameron – Drums
Brandon Valentine – Guitars
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.