Xerath – II

Xerath

II

01. Unite To Defy
02. God Of The Frontlines
03. Reform Part III
04. The Call To Arms
05. Machine Insurgency
06. Sworn To Sacrifice
07. Enemy Incited Armageddon
08. Nuclear Self Eradication
09. Numbered Among The Dead
10. The Glorious Death

[05/03/2011]
[Candlelight Records]

Xerath‘s debut, aptly titled I, had all the watermarks of a fresh and promising young band. The main idea was on show quite clearly: juddering Meshuggah riffs set against orchestral parts that made even the most grandiose statements by Dimmu Borgir or Emperor seem a little half-hearted – but it all came in a package that was just a little rough around the edges; the vision hadn’t been fully realised yet.

Enter II. This Basingstoke quartet have taken a huge leap forwards in progression from the aforementioned 2009 offering and it shows most prominently in the song composition. I feel bad in admitting that I never thought they could come up with the grooves that end “God Of The Frontlines“or the djent-ish riffs showcased in “Machine Insurgency,” but I am incredibly happy to be proven wrong. On the note of djent, I think it’s fair to say that the sudden rise of the ‘genre’ (I use the term loosely because I know how easily it sets people off) has had an impression on the band. While not adhering to that sound entirely, they stay more true to sound of recent Meshuggah or even Gojira by steering clear of a lot of the pitfalls of the genre such as excessive clean singing and emphasis on melody.

In fact the album is probably geared more towards those with a taste for the heavier things in life. Take the 7-minute epic “Enemy Incited Armageddon,” which travels from sickeningly heavy to unnervingly calm within a heartbeat. Xerath could have quite easily gone the way of Septic Flesh (sorry… Septicflesh) and used the symphonic elements to create catchy melodies but instead they serve more as the bedrock to the swaggering guitar and drums interplay. It’s incredibly interesting to see how two bands can essentially take the same elements and compose two very different ideas.

With the album stretching nearly into the hour mark, it’s understandable there are a few moments that unfortunately don’t hold up as well. For instance, “Numbered Among The Dead” falls foul of the same problems that plagued the majority of the I material – it relies too heavily on a few sub-par riffs that seem forced together. It’s a shame then that the song also contains the best guitar solo on the whole album. It’s soulful in a way that I would normally associate with the Thorndendal leads from Destroy Erase Improve – think more in the area of “Acrid Placidity” or “Future Breed Machine” than the unnerving fret board attack shown in “Transfixion,” though.

The UK is a strange breeding ground for bands. Most of the time the bands that ‘make it’ always have something a little off about them. Xerath are a very good example of that, they take an idea that has been tried a fair few times before with varying degrees of success and twist it just enough that it sounds fresh and exciting. Where I was mere baby steps into the metal world, II is a head first dive into the blood, sweat and tears of the modern metal elite. Get on this now; if the metal world still works on the idea that popularity is intrinsically linked to talent then Xerath are one to watch.

Xerath’s II gets:


4/5

 

– DL