IXXI

Elect Darkness

Written by: EW on 17/02/2009 17:13:15

Sweden's IXXI, featuring the usual conglomeration of members from other black metal bands this time including Ondskapt and Lifelover, are here with their 3rd album "Elect Darkness" and what we have is a dark yet groove-laden attempt at the BM template with significant nods made to the simpler riff-based 'AC/DC of Black Metal' found on Satyricon's latest records. Ok maybe IXXI aren't quite there yet and certainly don't propagate this style across the entirety of "Elect Darkness" but it seems a good place to start.

IXXI (meaning 9/11 in Roman numerals) are a new one to me and so like all extreme bands I have no past knowledge of undergo a very physical examination. "Underworld" starts delinquently enough, if a little morose given it's slow groove. Aside from Satyricon, elements of Shining and Secrets Of The Moon, especially in the bass-led sections, are apparent and so make for an interesting mix of carefully constructed mid/fast paced BM. Problems first arise however in track 3, "Southern Tribes", where with the heavily-detuned opening riff I thought some "Roots"-era Sepultura had slipped into the playlist unnoticed. It doesn't stay that obvious for long as Max Cavalera never sounded like a croaking frog nor did Sepultura's leading guitar retain that unmistakable sound of reverb-ed black metal but to the end the track maintains a punchy, staunch feel at odds with the preceding material, giving the album an air of a collection of demos bodged together until one title. Sandwiched between the "Roots"-isms is "Beyond The Rupture" which is much more like it, where at once the vocals fit with the style of the song and the despair in Totalscorn's vocals can be heard. The slow, deadly pace of the song, much like Satyricon's epic "Black Lava" may have something to do with the despairing, black nature of the song.

The album's conclusion features the same references to Satyricon and also the nihilistic industrial pounding of Jotunspor and Walknut in "Eastern Minions", where as solid as the riffing and pedal-heavy drumming is, the throaty croak of Totalscorn does the band no favours. The album finishes no brighter nor happier than it started - closer "A Bitter Lesson" may start with a cleaner guitar sound but the half-sung half-moaned vocals evidently borrowed from Attila Chisar (Mayhem) indicate a band hardly espousing the more positive aspects of life. A mixed bag of an album, with solid tracks amongst ill-fitting ones, IXXI have potential but some refinement is required to stand their name among the elite.

Download: Beyond The Rupture, Underworld
For The Fans Of: Satyricon, Shining, Secrets Of The Moon
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 16.03.09
Candlelight Records

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