Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Review; Xenosis - Of Chaos & Turmoil
1. Of Chaos & Turmoil
2. Building 7
3. Homeland Insanity
4. Soulless Army
5. All Seeing Eye
7. I Am Ceasar
9. Nature Erased
10. Bilderberger King
Death Metal has always appeared to be a very closed-minded genre. Many of its die-hard fans, or purists have a very specific idea of the 'right' way for a band to play Death Metal. Guttural vocals, super-distorted guitars, and everything rhythmic or melodic moving at breakneck speed from start to finish. It may be almost 30 years since the genre first tore its way into the heart of the Metal underground, but bands that call themselves Progressive Death Metal are often still scrutinised, and polarise opinion completely. Despite the fact that some of the essential Death Metal bands had a progressive edge to them; Death, Atheist, or Cynic anyone?
Xenosis, from St. Ives, Cornwall, have the calling cards of Death Metal right from the off. 'Of Chaos & Turmoil' is as powerful an opening song as any, and sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the album. The blend of Death Metal and Jazz influences is not a new one, but it is refreshing to hear a band execute this musical style without sounding pretentious, or soullessly technical. There is a very real weight to this music that makes it easy on the ears, rather than being unnecessarily challenging to wrap your head around, which is always the danger with Progressive or Technical Death Metal. As the record carries on, the song 'Homeland Insanity' has some very interesting twists and turns, including some unusual time signatures, with things going from steadily-paced to sixth-gear in an instant at several points. There's a short but memorable guitar solo, and some astounding bass work from bassist/vocalist Ryan Denning also.
The vocal style is old-school Death Metal, which is once again refreshing to hear, and makes a change from the Death Metal trend of trying to have the deepest and most brutal vocals that leave the lyrics unintelligible at times. 'Soulless Army' carries a great sense of groove with it, and is the kind of song that it's impossible not to headbang to, especially during the riff and lead work at the tail end of the song. 'All Seeing Eye' goes from eerie beginning to wild eccentricity in the space of a nanosecond and bears a lot of the hallmarks of Jazz, making it an exciting listen. One can only imagine how fun and challenging it must be to play this song live!
The first thing that jumps out from the song 'Bromance' is the intense speed that the drum work of (Now former member) Ian Arnold breaks into on frequent occasion. It's a genuinely jaw-dropping display of skill that would be enough to make any lesser drummer give up there and then. The song also shows off a great sense of melody during a slower section in the middle of the song. Some not-so clean singing makes an unexpected appearance in the song as well, and it serves the song relatively well.
'I Am Caesar' may as well be called 'Insert awesome instrumental work here'! Cool bass intro, solid stomp-along riffs, exceedingly fast mosh-ready sections, Jazzy clean sections, all check. All sublimely executed. The guitar chops that are on show throughout this album, let alone this song by duo Stephen Moss (Who has unfortunately since left the band) and Jules Maas-Palmer are exceptional in the truest sense of the word. 'Abyssus' opens as a straight-edge thrasher before changing things up yet again, in what is definitely a running theme throughout the album, but not one that ends up feeling old or overdone, thanks to the quality of the music itself.
'Nature Erased' brings a wall-of-sound style to the fray, that then breaks into another whale-dwarfing groove. Not that it's surprising at this point, but the way the band play their respective instruments is beyond skill, but the song writing capabilities that have been on display throughout the album are what shine brightest; there are no leads or guitar solos that feel self-indulgent, no bass flourishes that feel unnecessary, everything is well structured, very intricate and flows effortlessly, making the album feel like a full body of work, rather than just a collection of songs.
Casual fans of metal may become baffled by this album, people who play metal on any instrument will adore this album before realising that they really need to put more practice in. I like to think that even the staunchest of old-school Death Metal purists would like this album, but I can't be sure. However anyone that isn't close-minded and vitriolic against anything outwith their little bubble will find something in this album that should remind them that what has kept Metal relevant and exciting throughout the decades is it's ability to evolve. This album is a prime example of that evolution and that excitement. Not just a great showcase of Metal or Death Metal, a great showcase of music.