Review Summary: There's always that one album that has to screw up end of the year lists....
It's the very end of the year, most people have already done or are finishing up end of the years lists. You think you have a solid ranking of your favorite albums from 2012 and then....here comes Xanthochroid to mess all of that up. Being released on December 21, 2012, Xanthochroid's debut full-length Blessed He With Boils
shows you why you should wait until every single album of the year has been released until you make an end of the year list, which is something a lot of us didn't do.
For starters, I'm sure many people have no idea who this band is. Hell, I was one of those people up until about a week ago. With that being said, Xanthochroid is a black metal band hailing from California. I don't know about you guys, but when I think of USBM (especially from California) I think of bands like Ash Borer and Fell Voices, so if you're like me, I'm sure you'd expect more of that type of sound from this band. The droning guitars, the cold atmosphere, the "Cascadian" sound, all of that. However, that couldn't be further from the truth when talking about Xanthochroid. Their brand of black metal is more on the melodic/symphonic/progressive side of the spectrum.
Just think for a second if Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, and Moonsorrow all had a love child. The end result of that would be Xanthochroid. From the Ihsahn-esque nasally shrieks and the Abbath-esque croaks, the epic symphonics you would hear from a later Dimmu album, and the folky interludes and clean vocals sounding like they came from Moonsorrow, you have one hell of a mixture here. You might think it would sound kinda messy if you mixed all of those sounds together, but these guys make it work magically. You can even hear a little bit of an Arcturus/Borknagar influence as well in the little creepy avant-garde esque bits sprinkled here and there.
If you're someone who is an elitist when it comes to black metal then you'll hate this album. On the other hand, if you're someone like me that got into the genre by listening to the "entry-level" bands such as the ones I've already mentioned, then you'll probably have a field day listening to this. That is if you haven't grown out of this type of music. Clocking in at a little over an hour, Blessed He With Boils
is quite an adventure, but it's an exciting one and you won't find yourself bored or wanting to skip any songs. It's like one big soundtrack. So do yourself a favor, don't finalize your 2012 list just yet and give this a chance.