Xerath is one of our favorite UK metal bands. Their 2009 release was called “I” (that’s a Roman numeral one). We liked that album so much that we’ve written about Xerath here, here, and here in the past. If you haven’t listened to Xerath before, here’s their own description of what they do (which is pretty accurate): “Xerath is a modern cutting-edge orchestral metal band – combining crushing metal riffs and grooves with cinematic symphonic arrangements.” For short, they call the sound “orchestral groove metal” or “chug-score”.
Think of an amalgamation of Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah, and Dimmu Borgir. Think of the kind of syncopated guitar rhythms that make djent fanboys slobber combined with meaty melodeath riffs and epic keyboards.
Xerath has finished work on a new album, entitled “II”. It’s due for release by Candlelight Records on May 3. And the reason for this post is that yesterday Xerath made the first track from that album available for streaming, plus they revealed the cover art for the album, which is an eye-catcher. We’ve got the song and the artwork after the jump . . .
First, the album cover:
Now, the song. It’s the first track from the new album, “United To Defy”. It’s . . . well . . . uh . . . oh fuck, I’ll just use the damned word: It’s epic.
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For more info about Xerath, their official page is here, their Facebook here, and their MySpace here.
UPDATE: Some of the comments on our original post didn’t care for the presence of the girl in the album art above. As my NCS collaborator Alexis then reminded me, this may represent a theme that began with the band’s first album. So, here’s the cover for that one, too:
That would be SUCH good artwork if not for the cliched crying girl who sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Not that it’s bad, nut I find her presence VERY jarring and heavy-handed.
I would have liked it better if she were out of the picture, too. But how do you know she’s crying? Maybe she’s thinking. Or maybe she created that chasm and the destruction it contains with her mind and she’s demonically chuckling to herself.
Either way her presence seems a very forced inclusion of a human figure in what would otherwise be a very intruiging, very open-ended concept to an album cover.
She’s also a bit big for where she’s sitting.
As for the music: I was just about to give up on it, until that funky djent stuff kicked in and turned my interest around by 180 degrees. Pretty cool shit!
Well good! Glad you liked it, even though everyone seems to be taking a visceral dislike to the girl on the cliff. Would it have helped if she’d been wearing a bikini? Or nothing at all?
It would help me if she were dead.
LMFAO. There would certainly be an increase in the brutality/evil factor for the cover if it were a decaying corpse or skeleton overlooking the chasm. Though I’m not sure that’s the impression Xerath would be after. 🙂
Check out Xerath’s first album cover, I think the album is called “I,” I think they’re continuing a theme
You’re right, they are. I have the album, I should have noticed that.
She works on the cover to “I” though.
I just don’t think she sits right with the artwork for “II”.
Can’t believe I forgot that. I just updated the post to include the cover to the first album.
ok, we will kill off the girl on “III” ;D
One of my favorite things about Xerath is (and please correct me if I’m mistaken) that they’re self-described as orchestral groove metal. I came across this description on their myspace page back when “I” was released, and I think it’s completely applicable.
Not only am I looking forward to the full release of “II,” but now they’ve got me all excited for “III.” That’s themed metal art for ya….metal-style.
I meant album art…that was a little redundant
As I recall, you were the one who turned me on to the first album, for which I am still in your debt. And I will discharge that debt, as long as you’re willing to accept payment in acorns. 🙂
As you can see, we have a bloodthirsty readership here. We like our scenes of chaos and destruction uncluttered with innocence. 🙂 (Thanks for visiting us!)
no problem! we definatly liked the idea of keeping the girl in…its kind of our mascot i guess! but we can understand if people arnt digging her second appearance though haha!
you almost hurt our feelings tho ;D
You are correct sir! I did indeed. Consider the debt discharged (keep the minds out of the gutter everyone) and I actually find myself in the midst of an acorn shortage, so perfect.
We didn’t mean to hurt your feelings here at NCS 🙂 I for one think that musical brutality trumps album cover brutality any day…. you could include bunny rabbits and rainbows on the next album and it wouldn’t phase me (but please don’t take that theoretical situation to heart…the readers will really revolt then).
Hoollyyy shit. I hope they do cool CD spine art, like megadeth has done with their discography…
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1) I don’t mind the girl at all…though I can see it being clichéd. The colors the artist used tie in well with the rest of the painting, so it’s not particularly jarring…
2) The music reminds me of Nevermore or Monsterworks or Biomechanical. That’s not bad, but it’s as if there’s a whole new genre of storytelling metal arising. I’m not a big fan of djent, but it works well and they do a good job of keeping the balance between heavy and melodic.
In case y’all don’t know Monsterworks (I’m not sure how I know them, so…)
I believe they have a link where you can download their first album free.
There’s a fair mix of clean singing, but I think I can be forgiven this once. 😛
“Storytelling metal” is a good phrase for music like this, which takes you on a journey.
I’ve recently seen something about Monsterworks, but damned if I can remember where. They’ve got a new album, and yes, their 2007 album is available for free download here:
I listened to a couple songs on their MySpace, and it’s good stuff. Thanks for that.
I have the 2007 album…I haven’t listened to it for a while, but it’s right in line with 3 Inches of Blood, who I do quite like.
I think Xerath is quite a bit more technical though…and their application of classical music works damn well.
Give me a line-up of Dimmu Borgir, Septic Flesh and Xerath and I’d be pretty happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see why people like Dimmu, I just can’t. I don’t MIND some orchastrel/ classical playing an/or influences in songs, but a wrong placement of that can and probably will cause the song to fall apart, almost as if you hear something that SHOULDN’T be there.
I’ve played classical/orchastrel/jazz drums for 4 years now. While some of it adds to the song, I find most of it just sounds wrong. When used in moderation and in a subtle manner, the above style’s pack a huge punch.
Dimmu just over does it for me, but to each is own!
I just saw a Xerath post on Facebook revealing that Emil Werstler (from Daath) will be providing a guest solo on the new album. Yum yum.
No reason to stop pimping for Xerath now — I just saw that Amazon (UK) has made samples from all the songs on the new album available for streaming here:
You only get 30 seconds per song, but goddamn, there’s some awesome riffage packed in those samples. My other overall impression? These dudes ain’t holding anything back.
Nice song, but I think this would be a lot better with less or no pseudo-classical/movie soundtrack stuff. They’ve got a pretty neat Meshuggah-like guitar sound but the keyboards sound really cheesy and are way too loud. Doing this stuff right seems to be very hard for some reason. I can’t really think of a band besides Emperor that makes or made really good symphonic metal.