Released: 2012, Erthe and Axen Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Often referred to as Cinematic Black Metal, Xanthochroid are a band whose prime emphasis has been upon exploring pagan mythology and creating moving narratives. Musically, everything is big in scope and ambitious in composition. Brace yourself for Blessed He With Boils, an album that easily attains a level of mastery within its opening minutes.
Unfolding with ‘Aquatic Deathgate Existence’, an orchestral backdrop with clean vocals flows out classical progression. Underlying this rich tapestry is an eerie sense of foreboding which comes into full force in ‘Blessed He With Boils’, which thunders out chaotic drumming and piecing banshee screams from the abyss. The acoustic melody and clean vocals display a well rounded balance that the band slide into with exceptional ease. The fully charged riffs and relentless drumming come with plenty of classical subtleties thrown in to mix. This is one hell of an opener that will get the adrenaline coursing in the veins of even the most demanding of metal heads out there.
In a complete antithesis fashion, ’Winter’s End’ strums out in acoustic delicacy before the war-inducing drum roll intercepts with mournful clean vocals that surge with urgency and desperation.
‘Long Live Our Lifeless King’ erupts with explosive energy as the metallic guitars, ecstatic drumming and tightly woven keys spray across the track, colouring everything in a bold shades and dark tones. The clean vocals burst out with full vibrancy. Meanwhile, the breakdown disperses the tormented agony into rippling effect of ambient beauty.
‘Deus Absconditus: Part I’ follows a Neo-classical guitar formula, with bongo drumming and ethereal clean vocals that drift effortlessly by. The lyrics depict a powerful narrative that fully captivates the senses and overwhelms the consciousness. ‘Part II’ wades in slowly with guitars before the hard-hitting ice cold screams shatter your eardrums with some impressive lead guitar thrown in for good measure.
Meanwhile, ‘The Leaper Prospect’ remains one of the album’s highlights. The solid fusion of piano led elegance and Black Metal sensibilities rope together flawlessly whilst never leaving losing sight of the grandiose atmosphere that it conjured in your mind’s eye. The unexpected twists and turns of ‘In Putris Stagnum’ (free downloadable track from their Facebook page) keeps you guessing at every step of its spiralling and ascending journey.
‘Here I’ll Stay’ is a piano driven interlude which laments the band’s talent for conjuring classical delicacies from the ashes of former chaos they leave a trail of behind them.
Closing off with the 9 minute ‘Rebirth of an Old Nation’ which is geared by a clean vocal intro, heavy riffs and strongly prominent use of keys. The blood thirsty high pitched shrieks sonn begin ripping into the flesh of the track leaving plenty of carnage in its wake. The relentless drumming races endlessly into the distance, before a group vocal melody floats in with bluesy guitar takes centre stage. The last few minutes crank everything up into full speed before departing in a theatrical sized outro that would leave any audience awestruck.
Final thoughts, where to begin? Listening to this record has been unlike anything I have encountered before. To say its been a journey/experience would be a vast understatement. An absolutely enthralling piece of art that is both richly textured and meticulously crafted. Music of this calibre doesn’t come around very often but when it does you won’t be satisfied with anything less and you’ll be hitting the replay button for some time to come.
Review by Ben Spencer