Winners of Terrorizer magazine's best unsigned band in 2008, England's Xerath was quickly snapped up by Candlelight Records and released their debut effort I towards the end of last year.
After sitting through this ten track offering it's pretty apparent that these four young lads have been influenced by the heavy, machinelike assault of Swedish titans Meshuggah, a band they've been often compared to. When you get a load of the absolutely massive sounding, chugging, guitar rhythm's and crushing bottom end grooves that permeate this disc, especially on tracks like "False History" and the two part song "Reform" it's hard not to sit back and be impressed.
At first glance the tendency might be to write these guys off as yet another Meshuggah clone, because if we were weighting this disc solely on their capabilities to deliver a relentless, all out barrage of perfectly executed aggression, then yeah I'd say they succeeded in that department. The real question here is does Xerath have anything more to offer or something to make them really stand out from the typical bands operating in this technical / symphonic / progressive sub-genre of metal? Well I'd have to say yes to that as well, mainly due to their ability to offset their aggression with a nice amount of symphonic or orchestral textures. Evidence of this can be found on almost every track on I but this added element really shines through on the songs "Abiogenesis", the superb breakdown section on "Nocturnum", where a gorgeous piano melody dances hand in hand with some beautifully ethereal sounding female vocals, and "Alterre" which features a brief but majestic string arrangement. Closing track "Right To Exist" also has a great mixture of varied, punishing riffs and bombastic vocals, wrapped around a strong orchestral motif, proving once again that although these guys haven't been together all that long, they certainly sound like they've been doing this for a long time.
Considering that this is Xerath's debut album I think makes it even more impressive, because all though it demonstrates that there is room for both improvement and growth, it definitely shows that they're on the right track. Should be interesting to hear how they follow this one up.
6) False History
8) Reform Part 1
9) Reform Part 2
10) Right To Exist