Xerath - III
Candlelight Records
Symphonic Groove Metal
14 songs (1:08:41)
Release year: 2014
Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Goat

It's always a pleasure to hear a new, original band improve over time, and England's Xerath are no exception. Something like Devin Townsend meets Meshuggah meets Dimmu Borgir without ever directly copying any of them, this keyboard-enhanced groove unit are heavy enough to turn death metal ears yet have enough prog-tinged melody for less savage types. And of course, everyone can get on board with the band's by now quite expert grasp of grandiosity, making each track seem like the end of the world with wide-screen cinematic energy. A strong sales pitch, and one that the band get better at implementing with every album. What previously held the band back from the highest of plaudits was their songwriting, which didn't make full use of the very strong hand dealt to the band and tended to repeat the same tricks.

Thankfully, this is greatly improved, more varied, interesting, and capable of holding your attention for longer. Opener I Hold Domination builds up from a gathering orchestral storm, bold and epic, downright Devin Townsend-y at first with choral screams and layered vocals galore, although it soon leaves the Canadian madman's territory in favour of some almost Djent-y crunching before introducing the first of many excellent guitar solos. And there's little outright Devin Townsend elsewhere on the album, although touches of Strapping Young Lad-esque melodrama pop up here and there, the guitar-driven 2053's groovy stomp touches on those moments of chaos at times. And of course, Dimmu Borgir never implemented orchestral backing as well as Xerath have here on I Hunt for the Weak and others (although in their favour the Norwegians used real orchestras, which must only be around the corner for Xerath). Mainly, what comes to mind is a more over-the-top Scar Symmetry, or other modern melodic but death metal band that avoids outright poppyness in favour of metallic crunch and complex song structures - with hooks aplenty, of course.

And it's those hooks that make III so much fun, which is an underrated quality in a metal album. The gleeful keyboard/guitar riff-trading at the start of Bleed This Body Clean, for example, or the tech-death lead guitarwork later in the track – highly enjoyable to listen to, worthy of both horn-throwing and chin-stroking. Passenger's meandering is pleasantly melodic, and the metallic, almost industrial crunch of the following Ironclad contrasts with it well, added horn blasts a nice touch. And there's even a two-part epic to finish the album. It's interesting to see that as the band improve, so does the length of their albums; I was barely 40 minutes long, II pushed it to 56 and now III is nearly 70 minutes. This leads to the odd feeling that you've listened to the same track twice, although it's a compliment to the band that this happens rarely. Someone should probably write their song titles for them, too. Still, you can't have too much of a good thing, and Xerath are most definitely a good thing.

Killing Songs :
I Hold Domination, I Hunt for the Weak, Bleed This Body Clean
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Xerath that we have reviewed:
Xerath - II reviewed by Jaime and quoted 80 / 100
Xerath - I reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
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