Xerath – II (Candlelight Records)Thursday, 21st March 2013
Once in a blue moon yours truly will take a virtual stroll through Blistering’s review archives just to see what has been posted. Such a task is usually performed when trying to rack one’s brain for an end-of-year list, or to remember who put out what and when and why. Now, it might be wise to start trolling our archives for the ever-increasing amount of bands with Meshuggah and only Meshuggah on the brain. It’s getting out of hand. And it’s not limited to just one form…it’s a morphing beast.
The United Kingdom’s Xerath aren’t total newcomers to the Meshuggah metal scene, having released their aptly-titled I in 2009 (see, told you we went through the archives). Suffice it to say, II is essentially an extension of I, which will eventually make III. But let’s focus on II.
Aside from the usual sound components of Meshuggah, Xerath is so privy to lifting (i.e. staccato riffing, modern production values, fluid guitar solos, etc.), they are able to establish a throttling groove at various points here, especially on the chunk “God of the Frontlines” and “Reform Part III,” both of which are the embodiment of what cyber metal has become. Lots of dense keyboards here to pad things, of which are primarily used in the chorus or break sections. Good thing Xerath uses so many of them – the are some curious similarities to Threat Signal and countrymates Tesseract on “Machine Insurgency” and “Numbered Among the Dead.”
If we’re speaking in terms of who has the most expansive sound out of the Meshuggah soundalikes, it’s Xerath, hands-down. The cinematic scope of II is ultimately the main selling point for the Brits, even if it sometimes pulls down the groove they appear to be bristling at the seams to launch into. Beyond that, file these guys away with Tesseract, both of whom owe their entire fledgling careers to Destroy.Erase.Improve.
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)