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Xaon - Solipsis Award winner

Xoan
Solipsis
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 02 April 2019, 6:36 AM

XAON. An elusive name born amidst Switzerland's highest mountains. Never quite fitting in any of the numerous galleries metal has to offer, drifting through the extremes whilst juxtaposing finesse and vehemence from an unworldly orchestra, endlessly exploring the vast echoic gloominess of the human mind. In only a few short years, the combo led by Vincent Zermatten (Guitars) and Rob Carson (Vocals/Orchestrations) has managed to tour the world through the release of their critically acclaimed debut album “The Drift”, notably across Europe with gothic metal monsters SIRENIA and folk metal legends TYR, in Japan with OBSCURA and ARCHSPIRE, in the U.S. with THE VEER UNION, and sharing the stage in festivals across Europe with bands such as MEGADETH, TESTAMENT, EXODUS, GOJIRA, PARADISE LOST, ELUVEITIE and many more. “Solipsis” is the band’s sophomore album, and contains nine new tracks.

“Monolith” is the opening number. It opens with grandeur—simulated big brass instruments and an ominous tone. The vocals are harsh throughout the song, and they really turn up the Symphonic elements as well. It takes a break about ¾ of the way in, with piano and clean vocals…simply beautiful. “Carillon” opens with an energetic riff and drums blasting away, and a long, bloodcurdling scream. The clean vocals in the chorus make a nice contrast to the heavy, Symphonic sound. The band is clearly not afraid of melody, as they infuse it throughout the Death Metal elements. “Solipsis” opens with a slower, more lumbering sound, with a riff that lays on the open notes until it is hammered into your skull. In the chorus, cleans combine with harsh vocals to create some layers here. Just after the halfway mark it makes a shift, and the melodies shine line beacons.

“Mobius” opens with soft, clean guitars and subtle Symphonic elements that turn grandiose pretty quickly. They temper the aggressiveness of the Death Metal so well with clean elements…almost as if they’ve been at it for over a decade. Lead guitar ushers in some additional melody that really gets your blood pumping. “Eros” opens with clean guitars in a somewhat somber tone. It reminds me of early IN FLAMES, in terms of the chord progressions. It doesn’t take much time for the cornered beast to strike however. It has a very charming sound, but slightly depressing. It’s like watching the final leave fall from a tree on an otherwise warm and sunny day. It ends with a powerful section of chanting and fat brass notes. “Cipher” is pretty raucous out of the gate, with a steady guitar riff and some light Symphonic elements. Once it gets going you cannot help but headbang along with. The vocals are most vile in this song, deep and dark. It takes a short pause towards the end to really let the Symphonic elements shine.

“Beast” opens with blast beat drumming and the sharp accents of strings, like the choir of the undead came to life, led by an underworld being on fire. It takes s short pause at around the half minute mark but comes back to life quickly thereafter, with vengeance unseen. The piano notes mixed it provide a perfect juxtaposition to the chaos that is carried out underneath it. “River” opens slowly and cautiously, a shorter mood-setting piece, with soft spoken vocals, repeating “river, river…” “Mask” closes the album, with some really powerful and commanding sounds. The cleans in the chorus lament highly, making you long for something that you can’t have. It break for a few moments with magnanimous moments that will last in your head for some time.

This is an album that has it all…highly structured and well-thought out, the Symphonic elements blend seamlessly with their brand of heavy, chaotic Death Metal. There isn’t a note too many or two few. Breathtaking moments of melody are swallowed whole by crushing moments of pure rage and hatred. It’s that perfect balance of beauty with aggression that makes the genre as special as it is, and it’s one of the best Melodic Death Metal albums I’ve heard this year so far. Mighty Music did a fantastic job with the production as well, so everything can be heard clearly.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Monolith
2. Carillon
3. Solipsis
4. Mobius
5. Eros
6. Cipher
7. Beast
8. River
9. Mask
Lineup:
Vincent Zermatten – Guitars
Rob Carson – Vocals/Orchestrations
Record Label: Mighty Music
     


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