Brutally honest reviews and commentary on the latest music
Genre: Orchestral Groove Metal
Release Date: 16 September 2014
Official Website: Xerath.net
Diagnosis: There’s really nothing quite like this out there right now. Xerath combines metal with symphonic elements in a way that hasn’t really been done before. You could easily compare them to Dimmu Borgir or Opeth, but neither are quite as brutal or heavy on the cinematic elements. This stuff is loud, heavy and powerful, and every moment is dedicated to maintaining that atmosphere. There’s a lot going on in the background that makes the music rich in depth. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to this for the first time without decent headphones. A lot of time is dedicated to the instrumental parts of the songs that they become something to look forward to about as much as the screams and clean vocals, if not more. The guitar solos are incredible and the riffs always manage to keep things interesting. The album is long, but it doesn’t feel that way. Listening to this album in full is an experience unlike any other and is a must listen to anybody who wants something dark and heavy. Not only is Xerath clearly unafraid of trying new things, but they demonstrate confidence in what they’ve written. There is no playing it safe here and no adhering to the conventions of any genre.
The Highlights: The album begins with the longest song on the album, “I Hold Dominion,” which has a full 2 minute cinematic intro, with heavy guitar riffs following a minute in along with a fist bumping chant before the prolonged scream. If this song doesn’t sell you, then the music just isn’t for you. “I Hold Dominion” is pure aggression and energy, and with an album that follows suit, there’s no better song to start the album with. “2053” raises the stakes a bit with loud double pedals, faster riffs and a satisfying scream about a minute into the song that is sustained for about 20 seconds straight, with the pitch consistently rising all the way through. “Sentinels” has one of the most memorable guitar solos on the album. “Veil pt 1” changes pace a bit with a piano intro and clean vocals right out of the gate, embracing the symphonic side of their music and closing with the fading out of haunting whispers. “Veil Pt 2” is a full instrumental track with a very memorable guitar solo.
Final Thoughts: Where a lot of bands have one feature about them that if taken away they would lose their identity, Xerath offers so complete an experience that taking any one element away from their music would still yield high quality results. There’s nothing in their music that is overused or heavily relied upon. They manage to take many different elements and put them together in a way that doesn’t favor one element over the other, while still utilizing them with skill and care. Very few bands have the talent do this and do it well.
Score: 10 out of 10