XTRMST
XTRMST


4.0
excellent

Review

by LightChaotic USER (4 Reviews)
March 18th, 2014 | 34 replies


Release Date: 03/11/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A strong effort from a surprising side project born of Davey Havok and Jade Puget, giving insight into what might have been for AFI.

Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise! A straight edge hardcore side project from AFI vocalist Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget... huh! The history of AFI is a long and provocative one. Their sound has evolved and deified conventional genres over the twenty plus years they've been around. I'm not going to recite the entire tale for you here, so let's just say that there could be a "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator" for all the different kinds of AFI fans. For reference, I'm the kind of fan that enjoys all of their different sounds and styles. So, how does this new side project "XTRMST" fit in? Well, imagine if you will, an alternate reality. In this reality AFI has just finished their fourth LP, "Black Sails in the Sunset", and are now deciding what direction they should go in next. Now imagine that instead of that direction leading to "Art of Drowning", it led to this...

At first it's hard to believe that these crisp, vibrant screams are those of Davey Havok. While he's been no stranger to these kind of harsh vocals in the past, they've become less and less prominent over the last decade. Not since the 'The Leaving Song Pt. 2' or 'Death of Seasons' of "Sing The Sorrow" have his screams sounded so powerful and gut-wrenching. I cannot compliment the vocals on this EP enough. Not only do they bleed passion but the lyrics remain audible throughout. Something that is not always the case in this genre. While they're not as layered or metaphorical as they have been in the past, Havok's lyrics don't necessarily need to be in this case. The bluntness and almost satirical nature of his words fit this style of music well. It's also worth mentioning the chants present in a couple of these songs. Something very reminiscent of Tiger Army, which is understandable given their past association with AFI.

Jade Puget is on form as well with some truly fantastic guitar work. His superb melodic sense has a tendency to slip into the noise here and it works. The tone is absolutely brilliant and all encompassing of Puget's past work. These songs are as fast and as heavy as they need to be. What they may lack in variety, they gain in consistency. Not everything is as good as it could be however. The percussion and the bass has been programmed in favor of the real thing. While they are programmed exceptionally well in structure they tend lack depth and quality in sound. Future efforts from this project would absolutely benefit from borrowing the other half of AFI or perhaps some fresh faces.

Overall though, this is an excellent EP that seemingly came out of nowhere. The production quality is fantastic and it's nice to see some truly aggressive material from these guys. If nothing else, it's fun to imagine where AFI might have gone and if this is a spiritual representation of that direction. It's hard not to feel like this is Havok and Puget saying "Look, we could do this kind of music if we wanted to". They certainly could and they could do it well if "XTRMST" is any indication.


user ratings (55)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
fromtheinside
March 18th 2014


19029 Comments


reviews a bit campy in places but i still came away from it knowing what to expect.

maybe explain an actual song or two next time? i was hoping to read why everyone thinks "Conformist" is so amazing.

Digging: Ibex Throne - Ibex Throne

Feather
March 18th 2014


1445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great demo/ep...? Who knows. Regardless, I like it. Review was decent and definitely hit the nail on the head describing the sound. pos.

Digging: The Smith Street Band - Throw Me In The River

Feather
March 18th 2014


1445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album could definitely have been released right after black sails or possibly even art of drowning. Happy you mentioned that. #doublepost

Cormano
March 18th 2014


990 Comments


this shit rules

LightChaotic
March 18th 2014


17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, thank you for the feedback fromtheinside! I actually avoided talking about the individual tracks because my last review was practically a track by track. I should probably find a good middle ground! If you want my thoughts on "Conformist" -

Honestly I think it's just a really great song structurally. It's fast, fun, and the guitar work is exceptional. Havok sounds like he's having fun and the lyrics here are probably the most varied of all the songs on the EP. For lack of a better term it's just bad ass.

Kris.
March 18th 2014


12425 Comments


this ep made me realize how much i hate the straight edge movement tbh

fromtheinside
March 18th 2014


19029 Comments


did i read somewhere how upset you were at davey yelling at you to not drink kris.

ASnideReturns
March 18th 2014


5242 Comments


The instrumentals on this EP are pretty cool.

Digging: Black Veil Brides - Black Veil Brides

someguest
March 18th 2014


21205 Comments


this ep made me realize how much i hate the straight edge movement tbh


don't rate
don't read
don't review
at least I can fucking comment!


Kris.
March 18th 2014


12425 Comments


i seem to have upset someguest


OH THE TRAVESTY


did i read somewhere how upset you were at davey yelling at you to not drink kris.


i mean kinda
it's just so in-your-face about like OH MAN I DONT DO DRUGS OR DRINK I AM SOOOOooOooOOOOOoooO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU and i dont understand that way of thinking. its like. yeah okay. you don't drink or do drugs. that's cool. whatever. but the lyrics on this are so cheesy and awful and grating that i can't find any enjoyment in the music, which i wouldn't anyways because it's kinda bland

maybe hate was a harsh way of putting it. but i don't get it.

ThyCrossAwaits
March 18th 2014


3058 Comments


Isn't this their second side project together? After that Blaqk Audio thing?

someguest
March 18th 2014


21205 Comments


I've already cried twice tonight and I'm on the verge of a third round.

I've traded in my beers for tears.

fromtheinside
March 18th 2014


19029 Comments


i see what u did there

EvoHavok
March 18th 2014


1476 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review and the EP is a welcome surprise.

Digging: Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral

Acanthus
March 18th 2014


9545 Comments


While I would have liked Burials to have some screams, I'm glad they kept evolving AFI and kept the hxc elements at bay. Not enough of a hardcore fan to enjoy an entire album in this nature, would get pretty grating after awhile.

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

FadedSun
March 18th 2014


1303 Comments


It's weird, I'm not a fan of the SxE movement either, but the delivery of the lyrics really get me pumped. Though, I doubt Davey runs around shoving it in everyone's face. The music is their way to channel their anger about it, I think. I remember seeing an interview with AFI and Adam was chilling and drinking a beer. I really doubt Davey gave him any shit for it; they're good friends.

Inferis
March 18th 2014


429 Comments


Davey has never really been in your face about being edge. When asked in interviews he'll talk about it, but c'mon he's still friends with the guys from NOFX and Rancid for fucks sake. He's not obnoxious about it.

LightChaotic
March 18th 2014


17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, honestly I feel like this side project is a way for Davey to vent. I don't see it as being "preachy" at all. I see a lot of people commenting on how militant his lyrics are and that he should just let people do what they want to do. But you have to consider the reason someone like Davey became straight edge. There's all sorts of peer pressure to drink and do drugs when you're in the music scene. It's not like his anger and distaste for that culture comes from thin air. He's certainly not directing it towards everybody that occasionally drinks or takes a hit either. It's the same as any kind of music. Just a conduit for expressing himself.

GringoSuave89
March 22nd 2014


1049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The "militant" vibe of Straight Edge bands just comes with the territory I guess.

Digging: Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God I

Nikkolae
March 25th 2014


4866 Comments


"Now imagine that instead of that direction leading to "Art of Drowning""

im not sure i wanna live in that world to be quite honest

Digging: Giant - Song



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