Album Review – Xythlia / Immortality Through Quantum Suicide (2020)

Enjoy this visionary soundtrack for our brutal, mutant universe, pushing the boundaries of Extreme Metal through the horrors of space vacuum.

The solo project of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nick Stanger (also active in the ranks of black metallers Ashbringer), the distinguished entity named Xythlia brilliantly blends the most extreme Technical Death Metal and Grindcore with Voivod’s progressive and experimental approach and the mind-shattering guitar acrobatics of Krallice and Ocrilim, resulting in the perfect visionary soundtrack for our brutal, mutant universe, constantly changing its shape and skillfully alternating complex concatenations of schizoid death-grind riffs with short atmospheric interludes and space noises, dissonant and slanted melodies and crushing slow tempos. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Nick himself at Sound of the Northwoods in Minneapolis, and featuring a creepy and fascinating artwork by Mexican illustrator Carlos Agraz (The Art of Asty), where an alien creature performs a suicide ritual through the space and time continuum, furiously stabbing itself to death, the project’s debut album, entitled Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, testifies the birth of a new talent capable to look beyond the narrow confines of Extreme Metal, and to push it through the horrors of space vacuum. “When quarantine started, I had nothing but time to kill with a myriad of frantic uncertainty and anxiety,” explained Nick. “This record is a reflection of that. It’s a concept album that follows a character experiencing the full extent of isolation throughout infinite time.”

In the visceral opening track Death Unyielding, we already face a vile sonic devastation led by Nick’s infernal shredding, while at the same time he barks the song’s demented and chaotic lyrics (“Collider, a force that could wield the aeons / The secret to transcending time / Death will always show / Rearing its ugly head / Chaos, the beast unfolds / Devouring what’s left of this world / Day of reckoning / Waking nightmare / Chaos reigning / Death unyielding”), flowing into the also demolishing To Defy Inevitability, a lesson in Grindcore the likes of Napalm Death which also presents groovier and more atmospheric moments than its predecessor. In Initiation: Void we’re treated to thirty seconds of insanity in the form of sick riffs and blast beats, morphing into a Technical Death Metal havoc titled Tachyon Malnourishment, where Nick’s growls get more and more violent as the music progresses, with his riffs and bass punches sounding utterly metallic. Then in Antidream serene guitar lines work as the calm before a metal storm titled Ablation of Subconscious, starting in a more introspective way with Nick of course roaring like a beast while at the same time smashing his guitars and bass mercilessly, accompanied by his programmed but very organic drums in the most technical and progressive form of Grindcore you can think of.

Flesh Prison sounds infernal, rumbling and hammering from start to finish, with Nick’s riffs setting fire to the music, boosted by his thunderous bass jabs and the song’s wicked words (“Damnation / An eternity of peril / No end to suffering / Clench my fist / One more click / Body frail / Frantic mind”), whereas Post-Ironic Indoctrination is probably one of the most insane and disrupting minutes you’ll ever experience in heavy music. And that musical madness goes on in Schrödinger’s Foreskin, bringing elements from bands like Slayer and Exodus to Nick’s already hellish sound, not to mention the demented progressiveness he extracts from his violent bass, followed by The Eye Bath, another atomic bomb delivered by our lone wolf in a little over three minutes where he doesn’t stop slashing his guitar not even for a single second, therefore making your head tremble vigorously. After another round of sheer dementia titled Mutagenic Growth, it’s time for the closing tune Fester in the Nether, showcasing an eerie intro gradually evolving into more of Nick’s Technical Death Metal, blending furious riffs and beats with a reverberating bass sound. Furthermore, Nick definitely knows how to make the earth shake with his technical Grindcore, always vociferating rabidly to make things even heavier and more sinister.

Nick and his wild Xythlia are waiting for you to exterminate your senses in Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, and in order to show such insane entity of Technical Death Metal and Grindcore your support simply follow Xythlia on Facebook and purchase your copy of the album from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, or from the Metal Odissey webstore. Nick might be one single man enduring isolation just like the rest of us, but we must admit he made an excellent use of his time alone to bring his unrelenting Grindcore beast to life in Immortality Through Quantum Suicide, condensing all the horrors, darkness and fears from space vacuum into a massive wall of sounds that will leave you absolutely disoriented after the album’s 23 crushing minutes are over. Let’s hope we can witness a second round (or maybe I should say reincarnation) of Xythlia in the near future, pushing the boundaries of extreme music more and more into the unknown, exploding our heads with his austere sounds for centuries to come.

Best moments of the album: To Defy Inevitability, Flesh Prison, Schrödinger’s Foreskin and Fester in the Nether.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Death Unyielding 1:06
2. To Defy Inevitability 1:38
3. Initiation: Void 0:27
4. Tachyon Malnourishment 1:32
5. Antidream 0:45
6. Ablation of Subconscious 3:04
7. Flesh Prison 2:05
8. Post-Ironic Indoctrination 1:04
9. Schrödinger’s Foreskin 2:55
10. The Eye Bath 3:04
11. Mutagenic Growth 0:41
12. Fester in the Nether 4:45

Band members
Nick Stanger – vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming

Album Review – Sleep Signals / Transitions EP (2016)

High-quality and organic Heavy Metal perfect for enlivening us up anytime, anywhere, delivered by an extremely promising band from the United States who are just starting to pave their path to success.

Rating4

sleep signals_transitionsBlending elements of the most traditional form of Hard Rock from the 80’s and 90’s and the modern Heavy Metal played by bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, here comes the skillful American Alternative Rock/Post-Hardcore quintet Sleep Signals and their brand new EP, entitled Transitions, bringing you huge doses of electricity emanating from catchy choruses, powerful riffs and a true passion for music. Hailing for the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this five-piece act is here to stay, aiming at disseminating their high-octane music all over the world for many years to come.

After the release of their debut album Open Your Eyes in 2015, many doors opened to the band in terms of touring and radio exposure, and based on what you’ll be able to hear in Transitions this positive trend is going to continue without a shadow of a doubt. Either by singing about deep and thoughtful themes or by simply offering you a nice soundtrack for a Rock N’ Roll party at your place, you can rest assured the music by Sleep Signals will never let you feel bored or tired at all, always driving the level of energy (and the music volume) up, no matter what the occasion is.

The opening track, Means, quickly grows into contemporary Heavy Metal/Metalcore the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, but with noticeable Power Metal influences.  In addition, lead singer Kyle Hanson has a very potent voice and makes use of it to boost the level of adrenaline in this exciting tune, with the backing vocals providing him an incredible support. Then we have The Harbinger, where the riffs by guitarists Robert Cosgrove and Colin Smith sound heavily inspired by that fantastic movement from the 80’s called NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), while drummer Taylor Madden dictates the rhythm with his complex and fast beats. And in order to make this song even more memorable, Sleep Signals managed to craft an extremely catchy chorus that will put you to sing along with them instantly.

sleep signalsIn the next tune, Digital Sleep, it’s easy to notice how much they love the music they play, offering the listener a modernized version of Hard Rock with a more aggressive attitude. Besides, it’s amazing how clear and tuneful Kyle’s vocals are and, although any of the songs in Transitions can be played on the radio and become an instant hit, I believe this one is the catchier of all five and a serious contender to become a Rock N’ Roll underground anthem.

Oceanus Borealis brings forward a Power Metal-ish intro that morphs into pure Metalcore in a vibrant semi-ballad, with Taylor and bassist Logan Rieger crafting an uplifting atmosphere for Kyle to deliver an emotional message through his vocal lines. And lastly, the title-track Transitions closes the EP in a more introspective and melancholic way. It’s undisputedly a lot more progressive than all previous tracks thanks to the job done by Robert and Colin on the guitars and Taylor on drums, not to mention its effective backing vocals. And when the song accelerates, it becomes a solid mix of old school British Heavy Metal and modern American Alternative Metal, something quite common nowadays in the world of heavy music, but usually not as good as what Sleep Signals are offering in this case.

In summary, what Sleep Signals deliver in a little less than 20 minutes sounds so solid and thrilling it’s hard to believe this band is just starting their career. Anyway, if you want to know more about them (and also take a listen at their previous material), go check them on Facebook, YouTube and ReverbNation, and don’t forget to show your support for the new by purchasing Transitions at the band’s official webstore or on iTunes. If I had to pick just a few of the several new bands I receive every week as the most promising ones or the ones with the highest potential to succeed in heavy music, Sleep Signals would definitely be among my choices. It’s good, organic and honest Heavy Metal that can be played anywhere, anytime, and that’s all we always look for in music, right?

Best moments of the album: The Harbinger and Digital Sleep.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Means 3:58
2. The Harbinger 3:39
3. Digital Sleep 4:02
4. Oceanus Borealis 3:51
5. Transitions 5:21

Band members
Kyle Hanson – vocals
Robert Cosgrove – guitar
Colin Smith – guitar
Logan Rieger – bass
Taylor Madden – drums