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Xenomorph: Empyreal regimes

31/07/12  ||  Sokaris

Old school American death metal. You should be nodding your head right now, as if to say “fuck yeah, old school American death metal”. Whether we’re talking about the bands that brought brutality to the thrash formula in California, the darkness emanating from New York or the congregation of gods that was the Florida scene, there was a time when the US was being looked upon with awe for the next big move in extreme metal. Most of the big players are still around in some form but a lot of bands have been lost to time. Obscure acts have built cult followings and there are hidden gems to be found by anyone willing to do a little digging. Xenomorph are one of those gems and even if they might not quite be old enough to be considered part of the first wave of death metal they will likely appeal to fans looking for some rare metal worth its reissue.

Xenomorph existed in their own world, playing a sort of then modern form of metal developed from the likes of Coroner and Voivod. I’m also hearing bits of Atheist and maybe just a touch of Incantation. A broad swathe of comparisons, but the general gist is that this is a fairly technical, twisted but relatively groovy affair. Xenomorph is not an easy band to boil down into a catchy description but that’s where their appeal lies. The guitar riffs have a very distinct style and the song architecture is extremely enjoyable to appreciate. The drumwork frames things nicely even though some of the legwork is a little sloppy. The vocals are a point of interest as the typical guttural approach is eschewed in favor of a sort of raspy hiss. Think David Vincent on Altars of madness meets a more pissed of Martin Walkyier (Sabbat, Skyclad).

There aren’t standout tracks so much as a general plateau of quality the album sits on. Don’t expect huge slamming grooves or flashy quirks, there’s not a lot of instant payoff and this is the kind of release that probably sounds better after prolonged exposure. The songs are even more twisted than all but the most progressive metal bands but the absorption process is a fun one.

Some of these progressive tendencies affect the band negatively however. Most songs surpass the six minute mark and would likely make more impact with some editing favoring towards straightforwardness. We get some riff salad moments, where you kind of forget the song even if there’s nothing wrong with what’s going on in the music at the time. This is really a case of overambitiousness rather than ineptitude. This is unfortunate because the band could’ve likely developed and matured in some interesting ways had a follow-up to “Empyreal regimes” materialized.

I’m not sure if Xenomorph will build the same after-the-fact fanbase that fellow forgotten Midwest death merchants Timeghoul have but they’re definitely worthy of a glance from any adventurous unearthers looking for buried treasure in America’s death metal annals.

7,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Fleskoptor Musikkk
  • Website: Xenomorph MySpace
  • Band
  • Pappshammer: vocals, guitars
  • Beguiling Tempter: bass
  • Zoanthros Vanir: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. The keep
  • 02. Wehrmacht
  • 03. Plight of the Cimmerian
  • 04. Subspecies
  • 05. Inducted throughout time
  • 06. Valley of the kings
  • 07. Biomechanics