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Aversions Crown – Xenocide Review

Band: Aversions Crown
Album: Xenocide
Label:  Nuclear Blast
Genre: Technical Deathcore
Country: Australia
Release Date: January 20th, 2017

 

Deep within a vortex, treading between coils of dark matter, resides an entity with enough malice to shatter the foundations of the universe.  The being is trapped, cut off from his brethren, but seeks escape…  Reading some of the lyrics to Aversions Crown’s new album Xenocide, one would think that they are in the middle of a Greg Bear or an Orson Scott Card novel.  While I was initially put off by the label of “technical deathcore,” the band’s third LP is a vitriolic assault that looks past the many downfalls of the plagued deathcore subgenre to create a product that is as intriguing as it is proficient.  It stands a head above their previous two releases, both of which suffered from lack of creativity and an overabundance of breakdowns.

There a couple of things that set Xenocide apart from the pack.  The atmosphere that pervades the record creates an engaging listen.  Even after spinning the album multiple times in a row, my ears are still soaking in nuances in melody that I didn’t hear on previous run-throughs.  Honestly, with most deathcore, after one or two listens the boredom begins to set in.  Not so with Xenocide.  Additionally, the vocals on the album are almost perfect.  Mark Pioda’s voice is a fully automatic machine gun that rents the air with lethal doses of ammunition.  He fluctuates pitch on a regular basis, as with the song “Prismatic Abyss.”

Xenocide is like the boulder in Indiana Jones’ “Raider of the Lost Ark,” gaining in momentum as the record progresses.   “Erebus” is a satisfying track that incorporates multiple layers of atmosphere to create an otherworldly feel to the song in between furious bouts of guitars and drums.   “Ophiophagy” reminds me a bit of Impending Doom.  The vocals on this track really stand out, and a melodic interlude and shifting dynamics speaks to Aversions Crown’s songwriting ability.  “Stillborn Existence” begins as a rather generic deathcore piece, but as the track continues, it melds multiple layers of sound with guttural, pig-squealing vocals.  In addition, the guitars really stand out on this track, soaring into the atmosphere above the melee of sound.  “Cycles of Haruspex” features some blissful, chugging guitar riffs, and then the album closes with the song “Odium.”  There’s a dominant harmonic focus on this song that’s invigorating.  It’s almost like the band took the best melodic riffs of old-school Opeth, infused some Metallica thrash grooves, and then overlaid the song with the atmosphere of Insomnium.  As such, “Odium” almost comes off as melodic death metal.

However, everything on Xenocide isn’t completely kosher.  There are a couple of rough spots on the record, including overuse of breakdowns and repetition of chord progression.  There’s also a lot that comes down to personal taste.  If you don’t like the “pig squealing” style of vocals, then that may be a put off.  Thankfully, the band only uses them a couple of times.  Overall, Xenocide isn’t quite as heavy or technical as the band’s previous two efforts, although the tradeoff for melody and atmosphere seems to be in Aversions Crown’s favor.  Xenocide is also best listened to as whole, and while there are a couple of standout singles, everything flows together better as a single entity.

I was just watching the scifi film “Arrival” earlier this week.  In the movie, the main characters must work together to decipher the aliens’ unique language and determine their intent for humanity and the Earth.  Xenocide also speaks a unique alien language, one that is infused with violence, intrigue, and a convincing soundscape. Fans of Fallujah, Suicide Silence, and Rings of Saturn will all find material to enjoy on Xenocide.  It’s still early in 2017, but Xenocide promises to be one of the most solid deathcore releases of the year.

 

Rating: 7.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Void
2. Prismatic Abyss
3. The Soulless Acolyte
4. Hybridization
5. Erebus
6. Ophiophagy
7. The Oracles of Existence
8. Cynical Entity
9. Stillborn Existence
10. Cycles of Haruspex
11. Misery
12. Odium

Total Playing Time: 50:21

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