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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.


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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I, Xerath
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