This is my first meeting with IXXI, however these blackened Swedes have been darkening minds since 2006. They released not one, but TWO full-lengths in 2007 and really started to gain some attention with the second album, ASSORTED ARMAMENT. Born of the volatile relationship between the four founding members (basically everyone at right, minus departed drummer Smoker), IXXI claims themselves to be black ‘n roll – a perhaps contentious label considering the often notorious short-sightedness that inhabits black metal.
“Underworld” opens the album with a slow, militaristic assault led by rolling drums and catchy dual guitars. O’er top is the human vulture that calls itself Totalscorn, cawing out a hateful paean. I found the vocals difficult to listen to at first, being a bit more…gravelly than your standard blackened howl, but they grew on me over time. “Western Plagues” is the first true instance of the black ‘n roll the band claims is their base – and a good example at that. Again, catchy is the operative word, despite the obvious fury imbued within IXXI’s music.
And then the stumble, as “Southern Tribes” opens with an absolutely terrible mallcore riff, sounding as if it were ripped off mid-years (ROOTS) Sepultura. What the hell? As the song gets going, a more standard black metal attack is added but unfortunately the band keeps returning to that hideous central riff. Pass.
From there things get back on track with the blackened thrash of “Sinrush” and “Enthusiasm”. Indeed, the band stays within the comfort zone for the duration of the album, albeit with a small misstep into silly clean vocals on the “Beyond the Rupture”.
When it’s all said and done, ELECT DARKNESS is a purely enjoyable listen. Yes, like any good black metal album, the rage is palpable yet somehow the songs are instantly memorable – a sure sign of good song writing. The most encouraging thing is that IXXI are still developing their talent. ELECT DARKNESS is not perfect, but with its mixture of black metal ethos and powerful riffs, it’s a perfectly enjoyable listen.
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