Album Review – Xenos / Filthgrinder (2020)

No compromise, no fashion, no bullshit, just Thrash Metal. That’s what three unstoppable Italian metallers have to offer us all in their excellent debut album.

Are you ready to crush your skull into the circle pit to the sound of a 100% pure, no bullshit, no shenanigans Thrash Metal album born from the urge to go back to the roots of the genre and inspired by the more technical wing of 90’s Thrash Metal? That’s exactly what you’re going to get in Filthgrinder, the debut album by an Agrigento, Sicily-based Thrash Metal trio formed at the end of 2018 by vocalist and bassist Ignazio Nicastro (from post-thrashers Eversin) together with guitarist Giuseppe Taormina and drummer Danilo Ficicchia that goes by the sharp name of Xenos, clearly inspired by thrashing masters like Megadeth, Xentrix, Annihilator and Slayer, but of course without forgetting to add their own dosage of personality to each one of their compositions. Featuring a modern and aggressive album art that perfectly represents the band’s sound, as well as guest appearances by Jeff “Mantas” Dunn from Venom and Simon Cobb from Anihilated, Filthgrinder exalts the characteristics of the genre through fast and aggressive compositions, yet at the same time sounding technical and full of groove.

Soldados works like an acoustic and serene intro, or maybe I should say “the calm before the storm” by Xenos, as they begin their infuriated, berserk Thrash Metal attack in the title-track Filthgrinder, with Giuseppe shredding his axe in great fashion while Danilo pounds his drums mercilessly. Put differently, it’s pure old school Bay Area Thrash led by Ignazio’s raspy and demented screams, with no artificial elements added at all, followed by Post Apocalypse Breed, just as insane and frantic as its predecessor, reminding me of some of the creations by Exodus and Slayer. Furthermore, Danilo accelerates the song’s pace while Ignazio brings thunder and lightning to the musicality through his vocals and bass punches, resulting in a must-listen song for lovers of the genre.

And pounding our heads with their razor-edged riffs and venomous beats, the band offers us all Birth Of A Tyrant, a headbanging tune where Danilo is once again berserk on drums, also featuring a sick guitar solo by the aforementioned Jeff “Mantas” Dunn, whereas So Old, So Cold sounds and feels a lot more infuriated and faster, or in other words, a frantic display of classic Thrash Metal by the trio with Giuseppe kicking some serious ass on the guitar while Ignazio continues to bark manically, bursting his lungs with anger and rage. And leaning towards the Speed Metal played by Megadeth infused with the fury of Exodus we have Iconoclast, with violent beats and rumbling bass lines working as the driving force of this slamming feast.

There’s absolutely no sign of slowing down as the trio keeps blasting sheer violence and rebelliousness in Angel Of Silence, with its background speech adding a touch of insanity to the overall musicality while Ignazio and Giuseppe are on fire with their metallic bass lines and sick shredding, respectively. Then we have Xenos’ superb cover version for Megadeth’s all-time classic Peace Sells (check out the original one HERE), showcasing a fantastic job done by all band members who give their own raw and demented twist to this thrashing anthem, with Giuseppe stealing the spotlight with both his wicked riffs and crisp solos. And last but not least, featuring guest vocals by Simon Cobb, the closing song Of Magma And War is another ode to all things thrash where Ignazio and Simon make a demonic vocal duo while Danilo shows no mercy for his drum set, concluding the album on the highest and most visceral note possible.

In a nutshell, if thrashing is your business and business is good, you must give Xenos a try by following them on Facebook and by purchasing Filthgrinder directly from their own BandCamp page, from My Kingdom Music’s Big Cartel, or from other distinct locations by clicking HERE. Those Italian metallers definitely know what they’re doing and where they’re headed to, therefore paving a very interesting future in their up-and-coming career. As the band members themselves like to say, there’s “no compromise, no fashion, no bullshit, just Thrash Metal” in the music found in Filthgrinder, and to be fair that’s all we can ask for (and all we need) when the style in question is our beloved Thrash Metal.

Best moments of the album: Filthgrinder, Peace Sells and Of Magma And War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Club Inferno Ent.

Track listing
1. Soldados 2:34
2. Filthgrinder 3:28
3. Post Apocalypse Breed 5:02
4. Birth Of A Tyrant (feat. Jeff “Mantas” Dunn) 3:41
5. So Old, So Cold 4:16
6. Iconoclast 3:38
7. Angel Of Silence 5:26
8. Peace Sells (Megadeth cover) 3:52
9. Of Magma And War (feat. Simon Cobb) 5:37

Band members
Ignazio Nicastro – vocals, bass
Giuseppe Taormina – guitars
Danilo Ficicchia – drums

Guest musicians
Jeff “Mantas” Dunn – guitar solo on “Birth Of A Tyrant”
Simon Cobb – additional vocals on “Of Magma And War”

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