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XX XX

Experimental/Post Metal • France


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Founded in Dieppe, France in 2006

OXXO XOOX is an experimental metal act with a strong doom influence based out of Dieppe, Upper Normandy in France. Formed in 2006, the band members consist of Laurent LUNOIR who not only provides much of the music but also the visual design, Laure Le PRUNENEC providing vocals and bass and Thomas JACQUELIN on drums. Dense, heavy and filled with avant garde tendencies, their music is rich in detail and heavy with grandiose eloquence with a bombastic flair. They also utilize their own created language for much of their lyrics. Their first full length, Rvrt was released in 2011, and their followup, Nmd came out in 2015.

Biography by Prog Sothoth

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XX XX top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 4 ratings
Rvrt
2011
4.16 | 19 ratings
Nmd
2015
4.00 | 2 ratings
Y
2019

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XX XX Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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XX XX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Y by XX XX album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 2 ratings

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xx Xx Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars It's very rare when a modern metal band crafts a sound that is totally unique but that's exactly what the umlaut loving avant-garde / experimental goth-doom metal act XX XX has done. It's been four years since the lauded "Nmd" hit the scene on the Blood label which created a triumphant mastery of doom laden gothic metal with symphonic and progressive elements. XX XX may sound atypical but exemplifies a common theme for French artists throughout history and that is take the artistic process to bizarre new levels of creativity and in the process alienate far more potential fans than attracting a fanbase due to the unrelenting drive to pioneer light years ahead of the accepted contemporary paradigm. In that light, XX XX is very French indeed although all identifying factors have been obfuscated in layers of symbolism.

It didn't occur to me until listening to the band's newest release, simply titled ?, that XX XX in many ways is like the extreme metal version of France's other "think-outside-the-box" pioneers Magma. Above all, XX XX takes the listener to far reaching places unlike any other and that's exactly what both of these bands succeed in doing. Adding to the similarities with Magma, XX XX have also crafted its own invented language where only umlauted vowels exist. All lyrics are in this invented language with an emphasis on philosophy and eternal cosmic themes. After all, the band name can be reduced to the number 69 which follows a ridiculously convoluted story where that number symbolizes that 6 (the bad) and 9 (the good) which together will free us from the empire of materialism and the opposite forces of the world or something of that nature.

Other similarities include long sprawling epic compositions that implement a common element such as a riff, a melody or a rhythmic stomp and improvise upon it for many minutes at a time with each of the tracks seamlessly connecting so that they comprise only parts of a much larger wholeness. Whereas Magma utilized the classical cadences of Carl Orff and the subtle jazz effects of John Coltrane for sonic timbres, XX XX mine the world of doom metal and gothic rock along with healthy doses of electronic embellishments glazed over by gloomy atmospheres and alienating zigzags through an endless variation of guitar riffs, percussive outbursts and of course the mix of male and operatic female vocals courtesy of Laurent Lunoir (multi-instrumentalist, lead vocals and has adopted the band moniker as his stage name) and Laure Le Prunenec aka Rcnn (piano, operatic vocals and guitar for live performances). Also important to the sprawling epic XX XX sound is the involvement of the avant-garde stalwart Igorr which is topped off by drummer and percussionist Isamos.

It is no understatement to claim that the bizarre nature of XX XX is an acquired taste to say the least. This is no fly by night metal band that can be deciphered in a mere single listening experience. This style of abstract and even obtuse musical parading weirdness comes off as an incessant Teutonic march of avant-garde stomps that break out the ultimate nerd driven artistic palette to paint surreal visions of Dracula-inspired love affairs taking place in extraterrestrial settings where the folklore of yore meets cosmic intergalactic crossroads. It's as if the progressive rock intricacies of Magma have intermingled with the goth doom aspects of Type O Negative and the industrial bleakness of early Einstrzende Neubauten. With processed synth guitars crafted by cybermetal guru Master Boot Record and the incessant symphonic background effects, one thing is for sure, and that is whether you love or hate this bizarre amalgamation of stylistic antics, you cannot claim to have heard anything even remotely similar to the sounds drifting in and out of sequence on ?.

For all its bombastic excesses that sound like a funeral dirge for zombies with oozing layers of sound slinking around as if there were the sonic equivalent of a lava lamp, XX XX maintains firm control of an underlying melodic development although in a darkened and lugubrious setting with only occasional metal rampages adding the proper contrast to break the haunting monotony. This is the weird kind of stuff i actually love quite a bit as i have been enthralled with the first two releases for a number of years however now that XX XX seems to be sticking around for the longer run, a few things do come to mind when pondering the developments of the last four years. First of all, this band seems to have created a creative cul-de-sac, that meaning that it hasn't crafted a sound that can be expanded upon in a noticeable manner. This album sounds very much just like the last one as the emphasis is on the varying displays that change it up often around rather melancholic doom laden strolls down a 78 minute run. While i personally love this weird music enough to experience another album of this nature, it does seem like the wellspring will run dry if new approaches do not manifest themselves.

In many ways, the entire album sounds like a dreamy intro that never ends and instead expands itself to over an hour's run. I can totally understand why many will find this just too weird and unsatisfying yet there's something about it that draws me in and embraces the simultaneously electrifying and hypnotic callithump of stentorian assaults of vocal performances and masterful instrumental interplay. It really boils down to the moment by moment developments and not the entire picture (not sure that's the intent though) because the album seems to exist in its own amorphous nature without anything tangible to grab onto. Needless to say, they call this avant-garde metal for a reason. There is little here to make references to and even though the doom and gothic tags are relevant, this is just plain weird. Too weird for many but i'm up to the challenge and although i think XX XX have crafted another excellent display of idiosyncrasy, the wow factor that the previous album is lacking and i have to admit that the album could've been trimmed down a bit.

 Rvrt by XX XX album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.91 | 4 ratings

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Rvrt
xx Xx Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The term "progressive" gets tossed around a lot in the 20th century but in reality most bands that don this description on their badge are actually just participating in a form of retro worship of their favorite 70s prog bands with touches of modernity. Thankfully there are still bands who put the true meaning back into the word "progressive" and actually nudge a musical genre (or two) a few notches into hitherto unexplored directions and take the listener on a true intergalactic sonic experience where despite hosting similarities with past bands is more akin to a convergent evolutionary feel sort of like life sprouting up simultaneously in the universe under the same laws of physics but evolves into something very similar but weirdly different. The music sounds like the perfect sonic companion to the organic yet freaky logo and album cover that graces the listener's first impression.

XX XX is one of those strange bands that have managed to take existing musical genres and put them in a blender and seeded them with kernels of creativity and reaped their harvests in most peculiar ways. The band originates from the Normandy coastal region of France in the small city of Dieppe but one would be hard pressed to discern such a fact from the lyrics alone since like their fellow countrymen Magma, they have invented their own unique language with a basic vocabulary of about 300 words to grace their musical expressions which adds a whole extra layer of exoticness and complexity which is explained on their BandCamp site. The name of the band isn't an umlaut lover's cutesy version of "hugs and kisses" but rather is a code that means 69 in their invented language. RVRT is their debut release and the music is very much like the eerie artwork that graces the cover. XX XX is truly a unique band that takes various elements of doom and gothic metal and mixes it with symphonic classical, dark ambient, chamber music and avant-garde time signatures that unpredictably hop, skip and jump from one passage to another eschewing virtually any known methods of songwriting construction. The music generally marches along at mid-tempo with occasional outbursts of energy.

The album begins with thundering percussive claps, demonic church organs and a group sing along with the lead gothic male vocals of Laurent Lunois becoming joined in by the female ethereal vocals of Laure Le Prunenec aka Rcnn. Like all the monstrously long and slowly wending and winding tracks on RVRT, "grth" takes its time to build up its thick atmospheres and musical intensity that delivers a synth-drenched gothic metal extravaganza with beautifully twisted classical melodies gone wild. The track is very representative of the entire album and RVRT really feels like variations of a single theme and at 77:57, a very long demanding theme but somehow this band is capable of delivering enough hooks and variations of the passages to keep my attention fully focused on their weird and twisted avant-garde take on perhaps a metal take on "Phantom Of The Opera" and even makes me think of what would happen if an avant-garde metal band like Unexpect joined in with goth tinged Type O Negative to create a mesmerizing, energetic and utterly unforgettable experience.

While the music is fairly consistent in its atmospheric delivery making me think of a haunted evening at Notre Dame where the spirits are restless, the moon is full and all kinds of dark magic is afoot, the unpredictability really comes in how the band unfold their tracks in the songwriting department. At times we will hear a Chopin-esque classical keyboard run accompanied by doom metal guitars, highly technical percussive chops with eerie synthesizers and Gothic vocal motifs and at other times whizzing harpsichords accompanied by string ensembles and operatic vocal interactions A combo of effects that leaves me begging for more. While RVRT is generally tagged as avant-garde metal, the truth is that the metal only occurs a portion of the time with many long passages being performed exclusively on piano, others on synth and others on drums with the metal only joining for the more aggressive sections. Whatever you want to call this, it is truly one that demands a few listens to sink in but one that has been enjoying a regular rotational spin in my world. The musical flow is totally intense and the vocals sung in this exotic language take the listener to extreme musical realms where the celestial and terrestrial temporarily become one.

 Nmd by XX XX album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.16 | 19 ratings

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Nmd
xx Xx Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars After gracing the world with their new musical style created to foment the blooming of the mind that takes root in inner universal truths, the umlaut loving XX XX spent four long years crafting their sophomore album NMD which once again displays their invented language created from their intuition and set to their own codification of rules. Once again we are treated to the progressive amalgamation and musical alchemy of the musical soul to create another haunting and riveting sequel to their debut "Rvrt." After releasing the debut independently, this bizarre atmospheric goth and doom symphonic metal band moved things over to Blood Music and deliver another long winding operatic metal extravaganza that spans the lengthy time of 74:46 but like the previous offering leads the listener through a sonic epic musical journey that unfolds and reveals its charms slowly but never fails in the entertainment department as to keep me enthralled for the entirety of playing time.

Stylistically NMD delivers the exact same recipe as the debut by incorporating classically inspired keyboard runs tainted with odd time signatures, technical drumming wizardry of Isarnos with the operatic dramatic flair of vocalists Laurent Lunoir and Laure Le Prunenec all accompanied by doom and gothic metal aggression. While the atmosphere and instrumentation remain the same on album number two, this one has more intense and interesting compositions. It seems that all the ingredients have been put on a higher flame and the result sizzle in a more dynamic and varied sounding album. The synthesized atmospheric generator is thicker than a fog filled evening in a cemetery, the metal is much more aggressive and appears more often with even scant traces of thrash creeping in whilst the lyrical delivery is even more vehemently pronounced, passionate and prophetic sounding. The compositions meander though softer and heavier passages and while Lunoir's Gothic vocals are dominant on the softer passages, he utilizes more extreme metal shouting and growls on the heavier parts at times thus bringing the mood into more aggressive musical arenas, however the music generally marches along at mid-tempo.

Once again XX XX constructs a beautifully delicate album where the mixing and production of the all the sounds on board are perfectly woven together to create one of the most atmospheric drenching dark ambient gothic doom metal meets operatic classical music that easily sets this band apart from virtually any other in the world and beyond today. Where else are you gonna hear doom and goth metal played together with lush string sections, haunting church organs, harpsichords, tech drumming, passionate pleas in some exotic tongue all enshrouded in unorthodox song structures that eschew any rules yet all rooted in catchy classically based melodic developments? Well, if that sounds interesting to ya, then look no further than NMD because this is the real progressive / avant-garde metal deal that takes all this disparate elements and blends them together seamlessly in sprawling epic tracks that flow together to create an utterly unique and mind-blowing listening experience.

Thanks to bonnek for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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