25 May 2009
by Tom Gibbons
With a tip of the hat and nod of the head in the direction of Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad, Xerath’s I marks their latest step into the big bad world of extreme experimental metal. A cauldron of cleverly crafted orchestral tech-metal, the Basingstoke quartet’s debut is the end-product of two years of attempts at fusing film-score epicness with syncopated guitar rhythms. It’s a blueprint that rightfully saw that band win Terrorizer’s Fear Candy Unsigned crown last year.
‘False History’ already has a bludgeoningly mace-in-the-face opening, and combined with its anthemic chorus – Richard Thomson’s vocals showcases unexpected class in tone, versatility and tact – is a true flag in the mound for any bands on their tails. Holland’s Textures may have riffed these riffs before, but Xerath’s conquering of orchestral accompaniment should still be congratulated. At no point do the synths employed feel unnecessary, and neither are they deployed in the wanky manner that’s seen many bands falter. Xerath have conjured up their very own blend (it actually works!) and it trumps any Metalli-concerto pomp that you might’ve heard before.
Watch Xerath’s vocalist, Richard Thomson, having a few troubles recording his vocals
Just when the album starts to drag its feet, the marvellous canter of ‘Consequences’ chugs along and knocks you off your perch with a Fear Factory-esque suckerpunch. But it’s the progressive ambition of the album’s dual-finales, ‘Reform Part I’ and ‘Reform Part II’ that we hope defines the band’s future blueprint. Revelling in its own brand of strangely accessible math-metal, Xerath’s debut album is an enjoyably challenging listen, stuffed full atmospheric heaviness.
Sounds like: Meshuggah, Textures, Strapping Young Lad
Top tracks: False History, Consequences, Reform Part II
Xerath – I tracklisting
Reform Part I
Reform Part II
Right To Exist