UK symphonic metal group Xerath are one of those bands that aren't an outfit you can listen to day in and day out. It's more mood music of a sort that you really have to be in the mindset to listen to. 'III', the band's latest opus, is an album that somewhat bucks that trend. While there is an ever present symphonic overtone, the album feels more like a death metal album with an orchestral backing. There aren't intricate arrangements that the guitar just works itself into, the arrangements go around the guitar. There are songs where the arrangements are the featured instrumentation and on these tracks, the guitar doesn't try to compete but rather turns into a gracious spectator. Vocally the album features a mix of death and hardcore style singing. With the aggressiveness of the guitar and the arrangements, the vocals tend to mesh quite well with whatever instrument is featured on each track. Tracks like "Death Defiant", "I Hunt for the Weak" and "Ironclad" feel more like traditional death metal tracks through and through. However, the blend of death metal and symphonic metal together create an interesting dynamic, where they almost feed off each other like parasitic partners, each growing stronger on the other's mettle. As the album progresses, it creates an almost paradoxical partnership. This album provides listeners with a unique soundscape that appears to be constantly shifting and changing as the album moves along. The album closes out with a two-part orchestral piece that also features some aggressive guitar riffs in the second part of the piece. This album won't be for everyone but I found it to be a very intricately, well-put together offering and will find myself going back to this one more and more.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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