Review Summary: Both an astounding debut album and an excellent swansong.
Xenomorph’s Empyreal Regimes is one of those albums that both amazes and disappoints. This album amazes through amazing technicality and cool song structures. But it disappoints because this is the only album the band ever produced. It’s a pity too, because if you base it purely on this album, they were going to go places and probably get big. Xenomorph on this album was:
Joe Papek- Guitar and Vocals
Bill Taylor- Bass
Chris Haley- Drums
Xenomorph is also an oddity. It’s a band that comes from Nebraska. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know of no other band that comes from that remote region of the United States. Xenomorph comes fully formed out of a place that had no such scene, and there was never a scene like it afterward. Which makes Xenomorph just out right odd. However, I am thankful to them, because they produced a great album.
Empyreal Regimes opens up with some eerie atmospheric and choral parts on the song “The Keep.” It then goes straight into a barrage of drumming and some cool guitar riffs. This song shows off Xenomorph’s three biggest strengths. Cool riffs, amazing drumming, and great rasping vocals. The riffs on every song are top notch, there is fast paced, mid paced, and slower riffs on almost all the songs and they almost all mix together perfectly, and none feel out of place. Some songs that really stand out though when it comes to the great guitar parts are “Subspecies,” “Inducted Through Time,” and “Biomechanics.”
The drumming is also great, and while there are large amounts of full-out barrages of drumming, Chris Haley also knows when to slow it down a little, which fits the songs perfectly. His best song is probably “Valley of the Kings,” which has lots of stop-and-go drumming, but places where it is a tad slower, and others where it is a full-blown onslaught. “Plight of the Cimmerian” also highlights the drumming, with some cool sounding tom toms, and it has some cool technical drum parts.
Now finally, we get to the vocals. I have to say they are fairly unique. They sound a little like a mix of latter-day Chuck Schindler of Death and David Vincent of Morbid Angel. They are kind of high pitched for a death metal vocalist, but they fit the odd atmosphere perfectly. None of the songs really stand out from a vocal point of view, except for one, “Plight of the Cimmerian.” However, all the songs have some cool sounding vocals.
With all these really cool things that Xenomorph does, I wish the bass was more prominent. I almost never hear it, and I think the bass would add a really cool layer to the music, with a little more depth. However, that may be the fault of the production, which, to be frank, isn’t particularly good, and may put some people off. There is a constant bit of fuzziness on the album, and I wish it was a little crisper, so we could hear the bass a little more as well as some crisper drum sounds and riffing.
With this fantastic technical death metal album, Xenomorph could have taken the world by storm with their unique blend. However that never happened, but tech death fans owe it to themselves to pick this up and discover this Nebraskan based band.
Cool rasping vocals
Poor production quality
Inducted Through Time