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Xentrix: Seven Words

Hailing from the North West of England, Xentrix ,who were formed in 1985 by guitarist Chris Astley, are regarded as one of the best acts to come out of the British Thrash scene in the 80’s. Mixing a high level of technical proficiency with memorable riffs and hook filled songwriting Xentrix made a pretty big impact on the underground. Their debut album Shattered Existence, which is a personal favorite of mine, is regarded as an underground classic and was loaded with power and precision. Even though Xentrix never really broke through to the mainstream in a big way, their videos did receive quite frequent rotation on MTV’s headbangers ball. The band also courted some controversy over their cover of Ray Parker Jr’s “Ghostbusters”, having used the official logo on the original cover art which got them into a bit of hot water forcing a change in the cover art.

After the album Kin in 1992 Xentrix disbanded and while they had a few personnel changes and attempts at re-emerging, the comeback only finally materialized with 2019’s Bury The Pain. To date the only original members are guitarist Kristian Havard and drummer Denis Gasser. With Chris Astely long gone from the line-up he has ultimately been replaced by singer and guitarist Jay Walsh who has taken up the important role of front man. Handling bass duties on this latest as well as previous release is Chris Shires. This saw the reconstituted line-up team up with the now legendary producer Andy Sneap to breathe life back into the beast. Now Three years later they are back and once again teamed up with Andy Sneap to deliver up their seventh studio album…Seven Words.

The Xentrix sound has always reminded me of a slightly more technical version of Metallica circa …And Justice For All. I know every band gets compared to Metallica by the casual punters but I actually mean that of all the Thrash bands that came out of that era Xentrix specifically sounded most like the kings of Thrash themselves. Very similar riff style to Hetfield’s and even the vocal delivery by Chris was extremely similar. What's interesting is that even with the new members, especially Jay on vocals, that intonation and delivery remains reminiscent of that era of Metallica. It’s even been said by others in the press that they are the British Metallica. Personally it never bothered me too much because Xentrix does it so well. In fact I wish Metallica had continued writing music of Xentrix’s high level and heaviness.

Bury The Pain saw the band return to their powerful hard-hitting roots reminiscent of their classic albums Shattered Existence and For Whose Advantage?. So does Seven Words live up to that excellent comeback album? I would say it absolutely does. Seven Words opens with the excellent one, two punch of “Behind The Walls Of Treachery” and into the first single and title track “Seven Words”. Both tracks immediately hook you in with killer thrash riffing and memorable vocals. Of course as always Kristian does a great job lighting up the fretboard with his solos too. “Spit Coin” opens with a cool dual harmonized guitar line, which is also a recurring trait throughout the album. The Metallica vibe is strong in the chorus part but it’s still awesome. “The Altar Of Nothing” follows and mixes the Metallica vibe with a bit of modern Kreator as well. Specifically in the fact that they are able to create aggressive yet very hooky music. They aren’t doing anything different from Bury The Pain or even that different from their classic albums yet they do it so well that it just goes for the throat and doesn’t let up. “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead” sounds like it could be a lost track from …And Justice For All. But don’t get me wrong even though Xentrix has always been somewhat derivative and are easily compared to Metallica, they are, however, even heavier and truer to Thrash and they do it so well that the enjoyment factor isn’t affected. “Reckless With A Smile” is another fast paced thrasher that comes out swinging but also has a bit of a classic heavy metal vibe to it in the verses. It has this cool thing where the guitar riff acts as an answer to the vocal line. “Ghost Tape Number 10” really feels like they have conjured up the ghost of Hetfield again but again it’s cool. It’s like hearing what Metallic would have been like if they’d stayed heavy and awesome. “My War” does have more of a departure in the beginning with almost synth like guitar effects (I assume). However once the song kicks in their familiar formula returns. “Kill and Protest” is probably the heaviest track on Seven words with some great heavy riffing and Jay aggressively barking out some killer vocals. When the dual guitars kick in after the solo it’s very tasty.Finally “Anything But The Truth” opens with some melancholic clean guitars and string arrangements before exploding into the Thrash attack. Again like several times throughout the album I get a Kreator’s Mille Petrozza vibe from Jay’s vocals. The way he's able to bark in a melodic way very effectively. This is more of a mid paced track as well and leans into some more epic moments to flesh it out. On the CD version they also have a bonus track. Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” gets the Thrash treatment and even though I still prefer the original they do a great job making it a Xentrix song and it sounds great too.

The production is exactly what you’d expect from Andy Sneap. Heavy, full, modern and clean which is somewhat frustrating because at times it does sound a little too modern and clean with Andy. He definitely has a sound. Personally I like my Thrash a little more old school sounding and a little more rough around the edges. However thats a small gripe because overall Seven Words is a very solid, entertaining and kickass album. For fans of Xentrix it’ll be a welcome addition and for those who haven’t heard them before it’s a fine entry point into their excellent catalog.

Jay Walsh-Vocals/Guitar
Kristian Havard -Guitar
Chris Shires-Bass
Dennis Gasser-Drums

1. Behind The Walls Of Treachery (6:05)
2. Seven Words (3:57)
3. Spit Coin (4:11)
4. The Alter of Nothing (4:00)
5. Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead (5:09)
6. Reckless With A Smile (4:09)
7. Ghost Tape Number 10 (4:23)
8. My War (4:39)
9. Kill And Protect (4:56)
10. Anything But The Truth (5:19)
11.Billion Dollar Babies (2:52) (CD Exclusive Bonus Track)

Added: October 25th 2022
Reviewer: Benjamin Dudai
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 339
Language: english

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