Review: Xenosis – Devour and Birth

We kickstart 2018 with “Devour and Birth” set to be released on the 19th of January by Xenosis, an exceptional genre-defying progressive death metal band from New Haven, Connecticut.

The opening track “Night Hag” introduces us to something I never would have expected from any death metal band ever, and that is their unique and unpredictable style incorporating some of the more unusual time signatures and riffs. Too often, bands that embark on these poly-rhythmic journeys will come back relying on shitty breakdowns. Not these guys, for they not only sound brutal, but also determined to show something creative and yet to be done.

The second track “Army of Darkness” proves to be technical but simple, dark yet shiny, and also unexpectedly melodic. To elaborate, the song starts off like one would expect a brutal death metal song to, yet with surprising expertise (or stubbornness), they refuse to use any 1/2, 2/4, or 4/4 time signatures – something a lot of death metal bands would depend on. As the vocals get more and more fixated, and the riffs become darker, one expects the song to just keep escalating. Not so… without spoiling it for you, I will say that the 1:41 mark is a completely unforeseen game changer. Almost like the listener crawled out of a cave and washed upon a beautiful beach. This is easily one of my favourite tracks on the album. On the last week of last year, I had to write about albums I found most memorable or notable. So far, I have a feeling this one will make the list easily.

“Delirium” and “Concave” are sure to please old-school death metallers for the fact that they are so easy to follow. There are no sudden alterations taking place, however the flow of the song escalates in all the right places to eliminate any possibility of coming across as dull or repetitive. Despite being simple when compared to their other songs though, I can see Beyond Creation and Obscura fans slowly gravitating their way over once they hear the dexterity of the vocals and the blast beats.

Having gone more than halfway into the length of this album, I can say it’s good to hear that this band was still fresh with bright ideas and originality when they made this behemoth.

“Ominous Opus” has a very Deathcore feel as there are deep gutturals not unlike Phil Bozeman’s, and also thumping riffs that sound like breakdowns but aren’t – I think this is as close a gateway as they can have for Deathcore fans. In a way, I’m not surprised, for if there is one thing this album has made evident about the band, it is that they are far too open-minded to confine themselves to the rules and courtesies of genres and elitists. With some luck, perhaps this open-mindedness can be spread by ear.

The title track “Devour and Birth” opens with a brief flirtation and likeness to Death Grind but gradually transitions to Prog, neoclassical shredding, and then Prog with a bit of cowbell. I think it’s fair to say that the best type of Death Metal in this day and age is usually one that simply does not fit into the one box, but maybe one that makes tunnels in several of them.

Last on the list, “The Projector” comes out thrashing via a Brutal Death Metal signature appealing to the most die-hard of Suffocation fans. The wavelength beeping verses are the only segments that really stop it from sticking to that one genre, but the sinister fading outro that begins at the 4:15 mark is by far the best part of the song. It kind of gives me a concluding mental image such as (maybe) escaping a zombie-infested skyscraper with a helicopter, and then just staring down at all the poor souls you survived and escaped from.

This album has been a fun joy-ride I intend to revisit many times this year. It is deserving of a 9/10; a duration worth every song and fit to serve every progressive and technical death metal fan.

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