Xenosis – Devour and Birth (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 16th January 2018
Rating: 9.5/10

Embracing their progressive death metal stance, Xenosis appears ready to elevate minds and bodies through some wicked songwriting and intricate hooks/harmonizing possibilities on their newest album Devour and Birth. The follow up to 2015’s impressive Sowing the Seeds of Destruction, not even a couple of member changes (welcome vocalist Sal Bova and second guitarist Ken Bullard) have slowed down this juggernaut in terms of output, ability, and crushing development. The listening public can expect a fluid display of progressive riffing, drop on a dime rhythm/ tempo changes, a duality in the vocals from growls to savage screams, plus this massive attention to keeping the proceedings cohesive and hook laden even as all the intricacies and technically brilliant/wow factors take ahold.

There are so many times in this record where the ears perk up at full alert – specific passages where the guitar lines either separate or in twin/layered unison just fascinate, captivate, and make you want to return for deeper engagement. Check out the Mark Lyon/Ken Bullard axe mastery class throughout “Army of Darkness” as an example, fluctuating speeds like the best metal players can in the business from thrash to death to neoclassical to jazz and back again, all the while churning out jackhammer rhythms sure to stir up the pit mavens. It’s quite clear Xenosis appreciate all facets of Death’s discography, but there’s an added 80’s classic edge to many of the hooks and instrumental transitions – from the darker days of Savatage to King Diamond – as well as a tip of the cap to current heavyweights like Ne Obliviscaris with weird time signature manipulations. The stair step riff action against cascading Dave Legenhausen bass play and equally intriguing octopus-like drum action from Gary Marotta puts “Delirium” near the top of the class for the band – a sure fire classic that fires off all the progressive death wants and desires (blast beats, tremolo picking, guttural voices from the grave included).

It would all be for naught if Xenosis didn’t know how to conjure up the perfect hooks during the verses and choruses – fortunately, Devour and Birth contains more than enough strong parts on all fronts. Most will be hard pressed not to shake their heads and stomp their feet to the twin leads and crunchy, heads down rhythms for “Concave”, while the all-out assault that is “The Projector”, makes me think of the classic Morbid Angel days during it’s opening sequence, before transitioning into this see-saw alternate universe where Gojira and Voivod battle in a cage match, Sal bellowing the lyrics as if breaking out of prison for the first time in decades.

Since Death is no longer with us, it’s great to see Xenosis continues the tradition of classic progressive death metal – but put their own stamp and take on it as younger players. Devour and Birth is well-worth your time, energy and investment if you want an album that can take you on a journey for years down the line.

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