In eight years, Austria's female-fronted Xenesthis has morphed from a dark-metal/metalcore outfit into a modern-metal behemoth. That was a wise decision, as the melody-driven "Reflections" and "Taken Sick" impress more than the aggressive opening track "Alecto" (named, incidentally, after one of the Erinyes in Greek mythology) and the pissed-off "Ashes of Affection" (with more references to "fuck" and "shit" than you'll hear on the local playground).
This is still dark and heavy stuff, but mid-range vocalist Katrin Bernhardt sounds more comfortable in her updated role, which takes away some of the masculinity that still creeps into her voice every now and then.
While drawing comparisons to Lacuna Coil, Scar Symmetry, Dream Theater and In Flames, this unlikely quintet forges a serrated sound with crispy guitar riffs, detailed arrangements and dense melodies that should appeal to a wide range of headbangers — especially if Xenesthis can abandon its metalcore tendencies once and for all.
3) Taken Sick
5) Ashes of Affection
6) Hedonist's Horror
7) Raised Fist Armed
9) United in Chaos
10) Sand Through Hands