Xerath - II
Orchestral Tech Metal
10 songs (58:05)
Release year: 2011
Reviewed by Jaime
Xerath came from pretty much nowhere with their debut album Xerath I a few moons ago, using a mix of technical riffing that may or may not have been carbon copied from any Meshuggah album and making it a bit more interesting with heavy symphonic elements that provide some additional layers to keep a grasp of your attention. It's a good formula, and it clearly works as the band have returned with the follow up: Xerath II.

While the Meshuggah comparison is probably the easiest and most blatant to make the band aren't merely copycats with a fake string section. They have a greater melodic streak running through the music that isn’t merely limited to something being programmed over the standard chug-chug-chug. Take for example the opening track Unite to Defy which (post orchestral intro, something that jumped the shark a while back) has the similar rhythmic elements going on but, and brace yourself here, uses more than two notes. Shocking eh? The band actually plays riffs instead of rhythms for the most part, and when they do go into the single or double note mode the orchestral elements spring out and build around the roots that the guitars are laying down. It’s big, it’s grand, and it’s pretty damn good. Especially when you consider that some bands would’ve been happy without all the extra bells and whistles Xerath adds to their work. God of The Frontlines is a bit simpler in scope and a bit more like the stuff from their previous album in my opinion. It’s not as interesting as the opener, sort of plodding along until the chorus hits and things get amped up a notch. There are little instrumental sections that aren’t too bad, but they lack the sheen from the first track. Not entirely bad, just a bit of a letdown. However Reform Part III makes up for it by flying into a rapid fire death metal riff and using the orchestra a bit more sparingly, adding extra little augments instead of just following the guitars. The little guitar interlude is pretty nice too, sorta reminded me a bit of latter day Napalm Death surprisingly. It’s a lot more aggressive and it supplies the kick to the face that the previous track failed to deliver.

And uh... from here on in there’s not much else I can say to describe them. All of their songs are pretty groovy, but there’s no real definition between them. While the album is very listenable it sort of drags on by the time Enemy Incited Armageddon hits, the first of two big epic tracks here, it’s bogged down by the fact that it’s all very familiar and makes the band seem like a one trick pony regardless of how good everything is, although the outro is a nice change of pace. The second epic track, The Glorious Death, has a very similar structure to its counterpart which doesn’t exactly help with my complaints but has some nice guitar leads thrown in to the melting pot. It’s a shame but listening through an album that’s nearly an hour long and doesn’t really change tacks at all becomes pretty tiring and a bit of a struggle to pay attention to, and overshadows how impressive the band’s work can be in individual tracks. The band’s concept is solid, they all have the performance chops and the use of the orchestral elements is a massive step up from their previous album as it feels more integrated with the music, they just need to change it up a little bit. There are a few little Wintersun touches in some of the guitar leads that creep over the precipice that could have been expanded upon for example. It’s a good follow up that definitely shows that the band is progressing, however it’s best listened to in chunks.
Killing Songs :
Unite to Defy, Reform Part III, Enemy Indicted Armageddon, Nuclear Self Eradication, The Glorious Death
Jaime quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Xerath that we have reviewed:
Xerath - III reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Xerath - I reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
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