Xaon - Face of Balaam
Self released
Modern Groovy Symphonic Death Metal
5 songs (26'18")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Alex

No specific reason for me to review the debut EP by Swiss newcomers Xaon, except Face of Balaam has toiled in my car for a while. Lured by the promise of strong exquisite melodies I could not quite get through the EPs first two songs toxic mixture of symphonic death metal, modern thrash, industrial rhythms and hardcore. Slamming breakdowns is what I remembered from How We Become Ephemeral Birds, while clean vocal inserts and a touch of keyboards and samples really did not represent exquisite melodicism.

You really have to appreciate and be in the mood for modern brutal thrash/melodeath, enhanced through sound production, to enjoy How We Become Ephemeral Birds or The Soulcleaner. There is also a pretty explosive Discrowned with a monster bottom end, with Soilwork's Bjorn Strid singing, but my path and Soilwork's diverged around the time of Figure Number Five, so Strid’s presence on Face of Balaam did not move me much. He can fluctuate from screams to clean singing in a span of one sentence, but I mostly enjoyed the guitar solo by Vinc in Discrowned. The highlight of the EP for me was When the Everlasting Gardens Die Away, with a darker electroacoustic guitar and viola opening creating the most melodic spot the band revels in. The pressure and intensity keeps on rising, but in When the Everlasting Gardens Die Away it seems to be purposeful, with an echoing chamber sound and another killer guitar solo. But then The Soulcleaner comes in ... and we are back on to slamming things. The closer Veins Like Burned Trees provides a slightly different, and welcome, angle where dark cello and icy synth sound open for symphonic death metal reminiscent of countrymen Samael. However, Rob Carson’s voice is still an alternating mix of guttural core and silly moans.

If my description didn't dissuade you, or, if you a diehard fan of modern slickly produced brutality then Xaon is a band for you.

Killing Songs :
When the Everlasting Gardens Die Away
Alex quoted 66 / 100
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