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Xerath - I CD (album) cover

I

Xerath

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.97 | 22 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'I' - Xerath (7/10)

Held as one of the most acclaimed metal debuts in 2009, Xerath comes onto the scene with a fairly exciting sound. Although the djent, Meshuggah-laden sound that Xerath plays was already well trodden by the time this album was released, Xerath adds something new and exciting to it; an orchestral, symphonic backing. It comes as no surprise then, that Xerath holds a very epic sound to them. Xerath has a very professional sound to them, even this early on, and while I found myself very disappointed by their sophomore, Xerath shows alot of potential with this impressive first album.

When describing their sound, I hear the powerful chugging grooves of bands like Gojira and Meshuggah, along with the thrashy grandeur of Strapping Young Lad. On top of that, there is this orchestral sound that follows the metal instruments throughout this album, adding plenty of depth to the sound, although it rarely ever takes a forefront in Xerath's music. Speaking of the band's metal sound, it is heavy and oftimes technical, with plenty of chuggy riffs to make up the meat of the band's sound. The vocals here are growled and screamed, like a less melodic Joe Duplantier (of Gojira). The riffs and instrumentation are focused more on rhythm than melody, although the orchestral element adds a slightly more melodic and harmonious edge. True enough, there are plenty of riffs here that get my head banging, although overall, I find that there could have been some extra melodies or more memorable moments around the album to grasp onto. As it stands, Xerath's 'I' sounds more or less the same all throughout, with the obvious 'Interlude' exception being composed only of the symphonic element.

As far as orchestral sounds go in metal, much of it does pass me as being a gimmick, attempting to get the depth of a symphony, without the effort of a complex arrangement. I experienced that disappointment on the band's second album 'II', but in retrospect, 'I' actually has some very complimentary orchestral elements. It would be somewhat boring without the metal elements, but there is an authentic sound to the symphonic elements, and they have a great effect for the atmosphere. Taking Xerath's music from the orchestral angle, it sounds alot like the incidental music for some science fiction epic soundtrack.

Xerath has made a very professional sounding album here, and at a perfect length for this sort of music, it never gets boring. I would have liked some more variety and a sense of surprise in music like this, as Xerath never changes lanes from the first song to last. They do however have a great grasp of their style on this album, and clever enough to bring something new to the table, this is a band that stands on their own two feet in the crowded djent community.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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