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Xenobiotic - Mordrake Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 03 January 2020, 11:22 AM

Hailing from Perth, Australia, XENOBIOTIC was formed in 2011, and their name came from a combination of two Greek words; the first meaning “stranger” and the second meaning “someone or something that has to do with life. They are classified as Tech/Death or Progressive Death/Deathcore. Following the release of two EP’s, they released their debut titled “Prometheus” in 2018, and now present their follow-up, due for release in February 2020, titled “Mordrake.” The album contains eleven tracks.

“Insomnia” leads off the album, with some mysterious distortion, leading to the main riff pretty quickly. It’s dark and heavy. The vocals definitely suggest that this is Deathcore, but the technical mastery displayed by the musicians is noteworthy. The weighted, Djenty rhythms help carry the sound. “Light that Burns the Sky” features some very aggressive instruments and varied vocals, from high pitched shrieks to low guttural growls. The intensity doesn’t let up and threatens to pummel you into the ground. “Inverted” is a faster and shorter song, featuring choppy guitar rhythms, drums that roll with impossible speed, and a super-tight mid-section that breaking apart would be akin to unraveling a spider’s web one string at a time.

“Acedia” is another dark and heavy song, with deep guitar accents and incensed vocals. There is some ambiance in the background that keeps the song steeped in a bit of mystery and I like what this adds to the album. “Dysphoria” is a much shorter song…a seemingly continuation of the ambiance from the previous track. “Saphris” opens with some solitary piano notes and with a much quieter entrance. The sound holds pretty steady for a while before the main riff slams in and breaks everything in the room to bits. TJ really stretches out here and goes for broke with his vocals. “Fractured” features some varied rhythms that keep you on your toes. They execute them flawlessly, like a well-oiled machine that never breaks down. I can see why the Tech/Prog Death label is used as well, because those elements come through very easily here (for the listener).

“Thalamus” picks up where the previous track lets off, with a bit of ambiance and some spoken words. “Grieving the Loss” is a heavy and Progressive affair, and I marvel once again at how tight the music is here. The band plays with an almost native sense of rhythm…like the mighty MESHUGGAH. “Mordrake I: Reverie” opens with solemn clean guitar notes, and the feeling that something menacing is lurking behind you in the dark. The menacing sound comes next. It segues into “Mordrake II: Acquiesce,” which is the album’s longest song, clocking in at over seven minutes of rage, hatred, and pure anger. This song carries a bit of a melody line as well…a risky move for the genre but it pays off highly. The Progressive elements come into play here, in the form of the meter shifting as if being toyed at the hands of a God.

Overall, XENOBIOTIC has knocked it out of the part with their sophomore release, and deserved to be held in the same esteem as some of their more well-known colleagues. I can’t say enough about how tight the rhythms are here. It’s heavy, dark and thick, like trying to make your way through an impossible overgrown forest, but very accessible as well, and easy to take in. Call it Deathcore, call it Tech/Prog Death, or whatever other genre you want, but be sure to call it awesome.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Insomnia
2. Light that Burns the Sky
3. Inverted
4. Acedia
5. Dysphoria
6. Saphris
7. Fractured
8. Thalamus
9. Grieving the Loss
10. Mordrake I: Reverie
11. Mordrake II: Acquiesce
TJ – Vocals
N – Guitars
Cam – Guitars/Vocals
David – Bass/Vocals
Mikey – Drums
Record Label: Unique Leader Records


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