Published Feb 20, 2020For their second full-length, Australian death metal veterans Xenobiotic have put together a cohesive and well-paced album that never stops building until the end. The band's sound treads a line between Gorguts and bands like Rivers of Nihil or Black Crown Initiate that many attempt to emulate, but few are able to execute as well as what is being done on Mordrake.
The album almost structures itself into three acts, with the opening four songs serving to establish the bleak, monolithic atmosphere where the album finds its roots. Second track "Light That Burns the Sky" features an effective blend of dissonant tremolo guitar passages, complex drum patterns that flow in and out of blastbeats, and a versatile vocal performance from TJ Sinclair who, in turn, shifts from soaring cleans to brutal gutturals to tie it all together.
The use of transitional tracks and extended breakdown sections gives the record room to breathe, and allows for interesting changes in setting. "Saphris" sees such a change, with a simple piano melody opening into a trudging black metal-inspired march.
Xenobiotic manage to up the severity and brutality of each song as Mordrake eventually culminates in its grandiose two-part title track. Mordrake is a must-listen record for fans looking for a tight, well-rounded work of modern progressive death metal. (Unique Leader)