Album Review – Xenosis / Devour and Birth (2018)

Behold the next step in the remarkable musical evolution by one of the biggest new names of the Progressive Death Metal scene.

Hailing from New Haven, a coastal city on Long Island Sound, in Connecticut, American Progressive Death Metal legion Xenosis set out from their formation in 2010 with a precise goal in mind: To create Death Metal that blurs the lines, that draws from the past and present equally, and to continually evolve as a band from release to release. To date, they’ve lived up to that aim, and have continued to up the ante with each new musical effort put forth. After the releases of their self-titled debut EP in 2010, followed by the full-length albums Haunted Skies, in 2012, and Sowing the Seeds of Destruction, in 2015, it’s time for Xenosis to strike again with their third full-length opus, titled Devour and Birth.

On Devour and Birth, Xenosis offer the listener their characteristic Progressive Death Metal that blends old school-inspired Death Metal with a fair bit of more modern Technical Death Metal ideas, rounding out there sound with a lot of groove and some thrashy Melodic Death Metal influences as well. Given the eclectic style of Progressive Death Metal that Xenosis play, their list of influences, which includes names such as Death, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Testament, Gojira and Emperor, among others, serves as a guide of sorts that the music on Devour and Birth does not fit neatly inside one mold or style of Death Metal, and after taking a detailed listen at the entire album you’ll certainly get addicted to their intricate fusion of extreme sounds.

In the opening track, named Night Hag, a brutal wall of heavy and groovy sounds comes crushing our senses mercilessly, led by the demonic drumming by Gary Marotta and the gruesome roars by frontman Sal Bova, resulting in an extremely technical but at the same time crude sonority highly recommended for fans of the genre. Then in Army of Darkness we face total devastation with a demented level of complexity flowing from all instruments, with guitarists Kenny Bullard and Mark Lyon firing some Dream Theater-ish riffs and solos while Sal keeps growling deeper and deeper; and their onrush of Death and Groove Metal continues in full force in Delirium (Death of a God), where the bestial and utterly complex beats by Gary are flawlessly complemented by the wicked bass lines by Dave Legenhausen in a prefect representation of modern-day Progressive and Technical Death Metal.

I guess I don’t need to say Concave also sounds insanely aggressive and harmonious at the same time, with Dave and Gary making a dynamic duo from the underworld, therefore generating a fierce and vile background for Kenny and Mark to go mental with their riffs and solos. Then we have Oxidation, a mechanized bridge that reminds me of some of the weirdest tracks by Industrial Metal titans Fear Factory, revving up the engines for the heavy-as-hell Ominous Opus, full of breaks and variations to give its Death Metal core essence a demented twist, uniting the words “progressive” and “aggressive” in a fantastic manner. Put differently, simply go break your neck headbanging to the brutish riffs delivered by the band’s guitarists while Sal keeps growling like a beast.

The amazing title-track Devour and Birth takes their ferocity to a whole new level, sounding exciting form start to finish with the whole band displaying all their skills, in special Gary, Kenny and Mark, blasting sheer havoc through their sick beats and very technical shredding respectively. And the last track of the album, titled The Projector, is another hurricane of Death Metal masterfully executed by Xenosis, a circle pit-catalyst that sounds and feels very complete and detailed, being absolutely perfect for slamming into the pit during the band’s live performances.

Featuring a futuristic and menacing artwork by Brazilian graphic designer Caio Caldas (CadiesArt), Devour and Birth, which can be purchased through the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as on iTunes or on Amazon, not only cements Xenosis as one of the most interesting exponents of the current independent Progressive Death Metal scene, but it is also an album of extreme music that’s utterly recommended for all metalheads who are searching for a monumental amount of intricacy and progressiveness amidst all the chaos and destruction usually delivered in Death Metal. You can find more details about Xenosis and their elaborate music at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and keep witnessing (and of course supporting) for years to come the remarkable musical evolution this talented five-piece act has been enjoying since their beginnings.

Best moments of the album: Night Hag, Concave and Devour and Birth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing   
1. Night Hag 6:45
2. Army of Darkness 5:14
3. Delirium (Death of a God) 5:51
4. Concave 5:15
5. Oxidation 0:54
6. Ominous Opus 5:59
7. Devour and Birth 4:28
8. The Projector 5:56

Band members
Sal Bova – vocals
Kenny Bullard – guitar
Mark Lyon – guitar
Dave Legenhausen – bass
Gary Marotta – drums

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Album Review – Hammerdrone / Dark Harvest (2017)

Mixing up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies, this Canadian quintet brings forth a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization known as the Dark Harvest Commando.

Formed back in 2010 in the city of Calgary, known as the center of Canada’s oil industry, Melodic Death Metal act Hammerdrone mixes up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies to deliver songs that are both epic and catchy, being highly recommended for admirers of the musical creations by bands such as Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquility and early Soilwork. After receiving an enthusiastic response from the metal press in countries across the world with the release of their debut EP A Demon Rising in 2012 and the full-length Clone of Europa in 2014, this Canadian quintet returns with their second full-length installment, entitled Dark Harvest, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando.

The Dark Harvest Commando of the Scottish Citizen Army was a militant group which in 1981 demanded that the British government decontaminate Gruinard Island, a site which had been used for anthrax weapon testing during World War II, by distributing potentially anthrax-laden soil on the mainland. Enfolded by a menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Caio Caldas of CadiesArt (DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell), Dark Harvest has all the elements needed to effectively portray the ominous actions of such terrorist organization, including demented vocals, blazing riffs and frantic drumming, therefore enhancing the impact of the music (and also of the story being told) on the listener.

The atmospheric intro Echoes prepares the listener for the carnivorous but very melodic Karakoram, with its lyrics explain “who” the savage mountain Karakoram is (“I am the slate of lost emotion, I am the face of blank despair / That which crushes your spirit and body / In this cold and rarified air.”). Not only the lyrics are meaningful, but the amazing job done by both Rick Cardellini and Curtis Beardy on guitars provides lead singer Graham Harris the exact ambience needed for his deep guttural vocals to thrive. In Ancestral Weight, which begins with a soulful solo by Rick while drummer Vince Cardellini blasts pure heaviness through his beats (sounding like a machine gun), we’re treated to modern and versatile Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

The title-track Dark Harvest takes you to the secret lair of the Dark Harvest Commando, with the band’s Melodic Death Metal presenting a warlike vibe. The overall violence emanating from their riffs and drums is insanely high, while Graham works as the “leader” of such vile terrorist organization with his deranged growls. And continuing his momentum, Graham canalizes the size and strength of a bison on his deep vocals in the excellent Black Bison, boosting the song’s hostile lyrics even more (“I see my God as he floods the plains of destiny / With the bile of intent. / I see my God and his hooves are stained with mortal men, / Malice hangs in the fog of his breath. / No lunar eclipse is half this dark – / It crushes your will and seeps into your heart.”). Showcasing elements from Thrash Metal, in special in its drums, this full-bodied, menacing and powerful composition is tailored for admirers of the heaviest form of Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for cracking your spine headbanging; whereas in The Wasting Throne, another pounding tune by Hammerdrone, both guitars dictate the rhythm together with the lowering bass by Teran Wyer, resulting in a robust song where all spaces are filled with heavy sounds and melodic touches, while its second part offers more of the band’s neck-breaking metal music.

After the album’s intro, Harvest The Void is the first (and only) serene moment you’ll find in Dark Harvest, working as a gentle bridge to the deep and melodic Collapse Of Reality, with highlights to the dynamic guitars by Rick and Curtis and the intricate beats by Vince, while Graham keeps growling like a beast. It’s a good quality tune despite going on for too long, losing a bit of its punch after a while. However, in the last of all tracks, titled Lost In An Instant, the whole band is fuckin’ roaring, with Graham and his bandmates delivering high-end Melodic Death Metal through their beautiful guitar solos, solid beats and endless stamina.

You can listen to Dark Harvest in its entirety HERE, and also show your support to Hammerdrone (and consequently to independent metal in general) by grabbing your copy of this excellent concept album at their BandCamp page. Hammerdone, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, not only bring us metalheads high-end underground heavy music made in Canada, as melodic and catchy as it can be, but they also tell a sinister and noteworthy story in Dark Harvest that will show you that many (if not all) terrorist attacks do not come out of nowhere, but that they’re always connected to classified actions taken by all governments worldwide. We obviously do not condone any of those actions and reactions by governments or terrorist groups, but it’s clear that when metal bands like Hammedrone are inspired by such controversial topics, the final result is always amazing musically speaking.

Best moments of the album: Ancestral Weight, Black Bison and The Wasting Throne.

Worst moments of the album: Collapse Of Reality.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Echoes (Intro) 1:09
2. Karakoram 4:37
3. Ancestral Weight 3:51
4. Dark Harvest 6:17
5. Black Bison 7:48
6. The Wasting Throne 6:07
7. Harvest The Void 3:32
8. Collapse Of Reality 5:34
9. Lost In An Instant 5:35

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums