Label: Dawnbreed Records
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: November 3rd, 2023
For Fans Of: Children Of Bodom, Slugdge
Xoth sounds like the original Star Trek series would have sounded if they had made death metal and also were competent. This wild group has released some fantastic albums, including 2019’s Interdimensional Invocations. They play upbeat and catchy death metal that may work for those repelled by the more cavernous or blackened approach of others in the genre. For the last four years, some riffs from Interdimensional Invocations have thoroughly lodged themselves into my head, and I was excited for the new Xoth release Exogalactic to kick out those old riffs and bring in new ones to replace them for the next four years. That didn’t happen, but Exogalactic still deserves plenty of discussion and praise.
The Seattle-based Xoth formed in 2014 and have had a consistent lineup ever since, which partially explains their unusually consistent sound. Exogalactic sees Xoth continue more or less as they left off on Interdimensional Invocations. This isn’t downtuned guitars with as much distortion as possible playing chromatic riffs over guttural growls. Xoth instead approach death metal with guitars forming melodic lines using a clearer-than-usual tone, and all other instruments orbiting around those lines.
Off the bat you can hear the Children Of Bodom influence. Xoth definitely play death metal, but they sound like a power metal band doing their best impression. Opener “Reptilian Bloodsport” gets straight to the point with high energy guitar lines that lead to a verse with overly-aggressive blast beats and everything turned up to eleven. This leads to a guitar solo, the sole purpose of which seems to be to show off the guitarist’s shredding prowess, and then onto verse two. Xoth are back alright. Eventually the song slows down, but this seems to only allow the band to cram more notes into each beat. Throughout the track, the band keeps laying out riff after riff underneath some flamboyant and masterful vocals.
“Reptilian Bloodsport” just sets the tone for Exogalactic, and every other track follows suit. Xoth flex excellent songwriting capabilities by jamming in a large number of artistic shifts and show-offs into their songs while maintaining the Bodom-esque energy and death metal blaze. The breakdowns and solos on this album keep the thing alive and do a fantastic job doing so. Going through the record gives you no breaks or pauses, but plenty of scenery to chew on.
The performances are also stellar. The drumming stands out as a necessary piece of Exogalactic’s energy that could have easily fallen flat, but all of the too-fast fills and blast beats just serve to keep things moving rather than distract from the other instruments. The bass usually just acts as support for the guitars, but such is the life of a bass player. The band as a whole plays with cohesion and punch.
A fairly substantial problem threatens to burst forth from the chest of Exogalactic. This record often sounds more like Interdimensional Invocations Part 2 rather than something that exists on its own terms. Sometimes riffs even seem to be repeated from the last record, such as the passage just after four minutes on “Reflective Nemesis.” I liked this stuff the first time, and I like it again here. But too often I get flashbacks to Xoth’s previous record, making this album feel like a shadow rather than music that exists on its own. This problem doesn’t kill Exogalactic, but it does increase the chances that this release will fall out of rotation when it stops being the shiny new thing.
Xoth has released another excellent album. While I wonder how much more Xoth can squeeze out of their current approach given the similarities between their albums, Exogalactic is still a great experience that fills the listener with life and energy. I recommend this to anyone who likes death metal but not war metal. Xoth have fully mastered their own style of death metal, and have again created memorable music with no brakes.
- Reptilian Bloodsport
- Manuscript Of Madness
- Sporecraft Zero
- The Parasitic Orchestra
- Saga Of The Blade
- Reflective Nemesis
- Map To The Stars, Monument To The Ancients
Total Playing Time: 39:25