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Album Review

The members of Xerath like to describe their blistering yet melodic work as "orchestral groove metal" or "chugscore." Indeed, the British metalheads do have a strong orchestral element, and their first album, I, is full of the sort of chug-chug riffs that alternative metal is known for. So if Xerath opt to call this 2009 release "orchestral groove metal" or "chugscore," that's fine. But here is another way to describe this album: alternative metal with elements of symphonic black metal, death metal, and hardcore. Xerath's sound is Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, and Dillinger Escape Plan by way of Dimmu Borgir and Opeth, and they obviously wanted I to be an album that had plenty of brutality but was also nuanced and musical. For all its heaviness and intensity, I is not vicious for the sake of being vicious. In fact, I has a decidedly atmospheric quality — that is, atmospheric in a very dark, foreboding way. An ultra-dark mood is present throughout this 39-minute CD, and Xerath have no problem maintaining an atmosphere of doom and despair. Very few rays of sunlight enter the troubled, despair-ridden place that is I. Of course, giving the listener a sense of doom is something that symphonic black metal bands are known for doing — and while I isn't symphonic black metal in the strict sense, symphonic black metal is a prominent influence on this alt metal disc. I isn't quite as consistent as it could have been, but even so, Xerath show a fair amount of promise on their first album.

Customer Reviews

Crushing meshuggah style riffs with epic orchestral composition.

Their sound can be described as taking influence from Strapping young lad, Meshuggah and Dimmu Borgir to create a distinctive sound they call "orchestral groove metal" (or chug-score!) The band was formed in 2007 by guitarist Andy Phillips, drummer Michael Pitman, bassist Owain Williams, and later joined by Richard Thomson on vocals. Originally started as an experiment to combine film-score with syncopated guitar rhythms, and just a year later a fully formed gigging band with a clear direction. Xerath aim to carve a long and relentless career on the cutting edge of technical symphonic groove metal. Terrorizer magazine had this to say about the band: "Emerging from a fierce competition of no-nonsense death/thrash/black metal battery, Basingstoke's Xerath eclipsed them all by a long shadow indeed to win 2008's Fear Candy Unsigned bout with that rarest of qualities; originality. Emphatically underlining the 'progressive' in 'progressive metal', Xerath uncage slick tech-metal polyrhythms, soaring songwriting ambition and pull it all seamlessly together with the lightness of touch normally found in expensive music academies full of varnished wood. These are genre-violating extreme metal soundtracks to inspire real awe."

Symphonic Metal at its best

Xerath's album is one of my favourite metal albums of all time. Most of the tracks feature rhymically complex riffs, with epic orchestral work. False History has got to be my favourite track, the riff at 0:42 is TO DIE FOR. And the solo rocks. Good work, Xerath! Looking forward to the next album!


Formed: 2007 in Basingstoke, England

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Xerath is a progressive metal band from Basingstoke, England, that mixes extreme-sounding ingredients of thrash and death metal with symphonic orchestrations and high-brow lyrics inspired by scientific, philosophical, and theological subjects. In fact, when Xerath was first conceived in 2007, the goal of founding members, guitarist Andy Phillips, bassist/guitarist Owain Williams, and drummer Michael Pitman, was to fuse film scoring with syncopated rhythms and brutal guitar sounds somewhat akin to...
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Top Albums and Songs by Xerath

I, Xerath
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Customer Ratings