Xerath

II

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The unimaginative title chosen for Xerath's second album -- II -- only heightens existing perceptions that the Baskingstoke, England-based group may in fact be composed of stainless steel automatons rather than fleshy humans, built of parts imported from Sweden, no less. That's because a glaring inspirational debt to prog metal originals Meshuggah looms exceedingly large over the group's fundamental musical formula, even as they aspire to expand upon the so-called "djent" style with considerable doses of mock-symphonic orchestration and some post-metal atmospherics, as well. But Xerath's efforts only pay off part of the time: noteworthy cuts like "Unite to Defy," "Sworn to Sacrifice," and "The Glorious Death" graft surging synthesized string sections and soaring vocal choirs onto those dry, palm-muted guitars and familiarly complicit oddball time signatures, resulting in a lush soundtrack for an as-yet-to-be-shot prequel for The Matrix. Well, that's how it sounds, ok? Elsewhere, the suitably despondent "Nuclear Self-Eradication" and elegiac brutality of "Numbered Among the Dead" dredge up those post-metal nuances. But, as often as not, other tracks like "God of the Frontlines," "Machine Insurgency," and "Enemy Incited Armageddon" amount to slightly evolved Meshuggah material, by any other name. Don't get it wrong: Xerath may be onto something with this symphonic djent hybrid, and it's certainly worth further experiment, but the Brits still need to step up their game to distance themselves from those ever-present Swedes.

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