Written by: PP on 04/05/2011 06:40:31

The debut album by Xerath was amazing. Simply known as "Xerath I", it was a record that re-defined just what is possible with extreme music, combining together hypnotic riffage in the vein of Meshuggah with eerie progressive hardcore passages like those pioneered by Misery Signals, and Dimmu Borgir style operatic/symphonic black metal complete with monumental string arrangements and powerful synths. In an attempt to describe the insanity that such a combination certainly brings, Xerath has been called many things, among which 'orchestral groove metal' and 'chug-score' have emerged as the most prominent terms.

But whatever you call them, one thing is for certain: it's unlikely you'll have heard many bands who sound like Xerath. And given they have such a unique selling point, it makes little sense to steer away from a successful combination. As such, "II" picks up largely where "I" left off. The few changes that have been made are subtle: black metal has made some headway at the expense of prog hardcore, now outlining Xerath's sound as part Dimmu Borgir, part Meshuggah. The advantage is a more streamlined sound which certainly sounds immense in places, but the removal of the many ethereal vocal passages that made sense out of the hypnotically induced chaos causes parts of the album - especially in the second half - to blend together somewhat.

But there are moments of brilliance on "II", too. "Unite To Defy", for instance, uses a breadth of unusual time signatures and operatic clean choirs that sound like Between The Buried And Me on "Colors", but yet the arrangement is strangely catchy for a song that is a black metal piece at heart. The modern metal vibe provided by the repetitive Meshuggah riffage all-around also elevates Xerath above so many contemporaries because of the clarity and precision it gives to the sound. With all things considered, "II" is not quite the masterpiece their debut album was. Much of this has to do with the element of surprise that Xerath no longer have as we (sort of) knew what to expect on the follow-up. Nonetheless, the record still continues in the path of rock solid, even if it won't be guesting many end-of-year lists come December.


Download: Unite To Defy, Nuclear Self Eradication
For the fans of: Dimmu Borgir meets Meshuggah
Listen: Myspace

Release date 25.04.2011
Candlelight Records

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