Review Summary: A short foray into depth, rivalled by the band’s own creativity; showing that there is some merit in doing things the right way. Incultus
is an enriching listen, full of dark, light shown between a contrast of major and minor chords combined with diligent song-writing that is only going to see this well-rehearsed act extend on their already proven prowess and take the metal world by storm. This five track EP highlights the beginning of Xanthochroid’s career all in the space of thirty-six minutes. It might need to be noted however that this isn’t simply the accessible cheese of a symphonic metal band. Xanthochroid displays some very distinct elements thrown together in a vibrant display of instrumental talent and intelligent song-writing. At first the sound of a ‘symphonic black metal band’ may put a few off but give this a go, allow the ’you’ to be taken in by this tumultuous tumble. Despite the genre mash-up (even more than usual) this isn’t a simple gimmick. There is a depth to the soundscapes found on Incultus
that allows the listener to be fully immersed in this genre crossover without having cheese poured over their heads. The music can be folk-y at times with a use of flutes but mostly the record blends an array of key and acoustic instruments to blend the symphonic and black metal aesthetics together.
Sighting influences from the likes of Opeth, Moonsorrow, Wintersun, and Emperor listeners can expect that there will be a wide array of sounds here. Fortunately though it’s not as simple as saying that track such and such is an Opeth/Wintersun track; instead Xanthochroid have combined their influences to create a revitalising sound, pretty much of their own making. The usual black metal aesthetics of raspy vocals and blast beats punch through the listeners’ senses but in turn each heavy section is off-set by that of a clean piano trill or quiet acoustic guitar. That is, before the EP kicks off an up-beat section full of triplet riffs and ringing chords backed by some steady if not predictable bass and drum work. There is a slightly under-produced sound found in the mixing that hurts the overall outcome of the record (but very slightly as the rest of the record shines through with a lot of promise). At times this ‘static’ sound does improve on the album’s atmosphere but for the most part this short record could really use that ‘million dollar’ production, allowing for every instrumental component to shine through and take mass effect. Another note to be made about Incultus
is the fact that the album feels like it’s leading into something on a contextual basis. Sure the lyricall themes presented here come full circle, but for all it’s worth somebody didn’t quite connect the start with the finish.
Overall, Xanthochroid’s Incultus
promotes just how some genres can clash than come together in a stunningly vibrant way. The final track ‘The Last Relic of Axen (8 Bit)’ comes a little out of place as it’s techno stylings seem at odds with the rest of the EP; even when compared to the original track – it is sure to leave the listener scratching their heads for it is as much of a turn off as the rest of the album is innovative. It may just be an EP but with enough depth to be the beginnings of a very positive full-length, Xanthochroid pushes on boundaries already explored and makes something almost unique from it. The EP’s problems may be few and far between and minimal in nature but they are something to be worked out on another release. Keep in mind that this is the first offering from a new to the scene group, and expectations for what may come next can be justified. Xanthochroid show much in the way of promise and in turn are sure to build hype for themselves.