|Album art by Natacha Nielsen|
The sound of Xanthochroid can, in essence, be pared down to the best parts of Opeth and Emperor coming together in one cohesive whole. While that description is close though, it doesn’t do the band justice. It is an extremely melodic, heavily symphonic, and nuanced brand of extreme progressive metal. The vocals on this album deserve special mention, and demonstrate their sound quite well. There are well-executed, melodic clean vocals throughout and many ultra-layered sequences with alternating clean vocals and Ihsahn-esque rasps. Some dirtier death growls/roars and Inquisition/Abbath style croaks make appearances, and even some Burzum/Moonsorrow style desperate shrieks show up a few times.
The music is similarly varied - dramatic acoustic based interludes are used often, and very tastefully done. "Winter’s End" is a stunning example of this, as is "Deus Absconditus: Part I". On the metal tracks, strings and piano and other keyboards provide melodic flourishes in the midst of blackened rhythms, and despite the technicality of some sections, the band also shows a lot of restraint for such a new group - every note has it’s place. This is best showcased by the excellent final track, “Rebirth of an Old Nation,” which begins with an Opethian melodic keyboard lead over a thick chord progression.
The conceptual nature of the record also means tracks work to create a coherent whole of a record - they all have a distinct identity, but there are themes that appear throughout the album a few times on different tracks (almost always in different ways). All of this going on lends the record a very high replay value - there’s so much to the music that this seems to be a record one can listen to many times and get different things out of it or find different subtleties in it every time. An ambitious effort, and well worth hearing for fans of Ne Obliviscaris, Opeth, Emperor and even perhaps Moonsorrow or Wintersun.
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