Xerath : II

They Say :- “Xerath is a modern cutting-edge orchestral metal band – combining crushing metal riffs and grooves with cinematic symphonic arrangements.

2011 will see the release of Xerath’s second album ‘II’ – A huge and fully refined slab of Xerath’s unique sound, from the production genius of Jacob Hansen at Hansen studios…  Xerath have combined the most brutal and technical elements of modern extreme metal to offer you something massive, cinematic, heavy, groovy and ultimately epic beyond compare.

Originally formed in 2007 as an experiment to combine film score with extreme metal – Now a fully formed and live formation – Xerath aims to remain on the cutting edge of symphonic metal.”

We Say :- When Xerath released their debut album, the enigmatically entitled “I“, there were enough ideas, confidence and solid playing on display to suggest that here was a band that, if they used their talent wisely, could plough a decent furrow with their own blend of contemporary symphonic metal. The conflation of Meshuggah and Dimmu Borgir influenced brutality with sweeping, orchestral backdrops was nowhere near as clunky or forced as you might have thought- on the contrary, it was positively invigorating.

With the release of II (yes, we saw what you did there guys), it’s clear that Xerath have not just ploughed a furrow, they now have a huge field all of their own. This is defiantly the sound of a band taking things to the next level, with a greater strength in songwriting, clearer and more powerful dynamic ranges and, if this was indeed possible, more-ahem- ooomph.

God of the Frontlines is typical of the bands’ substantive progress- its hugely aggressive, with stylish playing,obtuse time changes and deliciously ferocious vocals from Richard Thomson. The difference here, compared to I, is that the band have an even greater recognition that pace, light and shade don’t need to diminish their essential elements- on the contrary, they add to the aural dynamics at play.

Elsewhere, the use of symphonic undertones have been used much more considerately. Whereas on I, there could have been an argument that at times they used orchestration rather like a child with a brand new toy, here it’s considerably more effective, adding depth and drama: on the closing The Glorious Death…. for example, it adds a cinematic quality that has your artistic senses tingly: whilst you’re banging your head, obviously.

On Reform Part Three, probably the record’s most unhinged track, with the band working hard not to spin off their dynamic axis, there are echoes of Strapping Young Lad in the playing but they are hints and essences, rather like the complexities in a fine wine, rather than any cheap, xeroxed copycat. Machine Insurgency had me looking for the nearest circle pit to join, whilst Enemy Incited Armageddon had me kicking back at admiration at the sheer bloody ferociousness of their work.

Be honest, Basingstoke is not the first place that you’d think of when you were going to think of a town that would produce some of the most brutal, inventive and cutting edge heavy metal of the past 12 months now is it? Think again. Basingstoke, that ever-so-still-1980s commuter town that has spawned the brilliant, face crushing music produced by Xerath and, in II, the band have produced a stonker of a record.