Quick bold statement: Opprobrium (aka the ‘real’ fuckin’ Incubus) cemented their place in metal history with the release of just two albums; 1988’s Serpent Temptation and 1990’s Beyond The Unknown. Both releases remain death/thrash milestones and both albums are rightfully revered by aficionados as absolute classics.
However, 1990 was a long, long time ago and those of us waiting for a new Opprobrium album to rival those aforementioned monsters have been left frustrated and hardly sated by the hit and miss nature of Discerning Forces (2000) and the downright risible Mandatory Evacuation (2008). In fact, Mandatory Evac is so universally derided that it’s gonna take something particularly spectacular from the Howard brothers to make amends for past offenses and it falls to The Fallen Entities to be that ‘something’.
But is it spectacular?
The first track made available was “Wicked Mysterious Events” and this fairly rudimentary slab of death/thrash didn’t exactly set pulses racing. One plus point was that at least the horrific production of Mandatory Evac had been addressed (only ever so slightly) but it was still lacking the powerful punch we know this band can deliver!
Kicking off with the rapid-fire onslaught of “Dark Days, Dark Times” is a saving grace with Opprobrium racking up the riffs and going hell for leather in the name of old-school death/thrash! Sadly, the production is pretty woeful with a tinny sound robbing the lads of their power but as far as songwriting goes, we’re already off to a decent start. “Creations That Affect” then comes across as pretty rote in comparison but some furious downpicking at least drives the thrash home and the song definitely improves as it reaches its crescendo.
When talking about Opprobrium the demands are fairly clear. We want brutality, we want groove, we want bone-shattering percussion and we want unholy growls.
We want it, we want it, we want it!
And, you know what….The Fallen Entities predominantly gives us exactly that. What’s sadly lacking is a stronger sense of purpose with many of the tracks merely existing as opposed to blowing you away but there is no mistaking that this is an Opprobrium album; meaning assured sense of identity is not in short supply.
As an aside, it’s important to note how hard it is to take a pragmatic approach when reviewing a new album from a band whose back catalogue informs your opinion in such a manner as Opprobrium’s. You simply cannot ignore the impact Serpent Temptation and Beyond The Unknown had (and continue to have) and it is, therefore, impossible not to compare anything new, to what came before. So, unsurprisingly, The Fallen Entities categorically does not hold up when stood side by side with the very best this band has to offer and yet it should not be considered a failure either. Far from it, in fact. Instead, The Fallen Entities should be viewed as a solid death/thrash album with moments of inspiration nestled next to moments of relative mediocrity.
Perhaps The Fallen Entities can be considered a semi-autobiographical title, as Opprobrium are surely one of those cult acts who seemingly had the skills to step up to the next level, before falling from grace and ultimately drowning beneath the weight of their previous successes.
Or, perhaps it’s just a cool title?
Either way, The Fallen Entities deserves to be heard and if it encourages new fans to check out Opprobrium’s (still hate that name, they are the real fuckin’ Incubus, right!) back catalogue then all the better! 6/10
Opprobrium’s The Fallen Entities is due for release on February 22nd 2019 via High Roller Records.