Review Summary: Menace, brutality, and deathcore
The internet age has brought with it many ups and downs for people of many persuasions, notably musicians. While illegal downloading has impaired the industry, one of the greatest advantages brought by the wide web is making it entirely possible for someone to compose creative and quality music in a simple bedroom setting. Xehanort, the one man bedroom project masterminded by John Galloway, is a shining example of this. Not only has the internet allowed him to easily release an EP and a full length album, but it got him enough popularity to attract the attention of Subliminal Groove Records. Despite how easy this process has become, his debut LP Awaken in a Different Dimension
feels incredibly cohesive and stands as one of the most well composed progressive deathcore releases in recent years.
Xehanort is nothing if not ambitious. Awaken in a Different Dimension
is an hour long concept story based around Kingdom Hearts, of all things. The story is an original invention, despite borrowing much from the aforementioned source, and manifests itself across the album through separate “entries” that serve as songs. “Entry 1: The Unknown” serves up an atmospheric buildup before the controlled chaos hits, with Galloway’s ferocious harsh vocals tearing through the soundscape. His growls are full and powerful, while his high screams pierce viciously. “Entry 2: Colossus” is one of the most hard hitting tracks on the record, with absolutely crushing breakdowns and merciless blasting. Ominous guitar leads lend a sense of foreboding to many of the buildups that elevate them to towering climaxes. Most of the album leans towards crushing the listener with heavy riffs, but tense atmospheres add color to Xehanort’s sonic palette. Spoken word passages crop up a few times and creepy, robotic clean vocals, akin to The Contortionist, appear notably in songs like “Entry VII: Albatross”. The final song could be considered something of a bonus track, and not really a song at all in a sense. “The Missing Pages” lacks music in favor of a spoken word reading of the album’s lyrics in a book-like format. If nothing else it shines light on the intriguing concept story.
The massive mix, another aspect done entirely in the bedroom, fits the album’s large nature and emphasizes the well performed instruments. No single aspect of the music feels left out in the final product. Purists will cry foul that the album was almost entirely programmed, but Galloway deserves some credit for how impossibly natural and lifelike the result is. Without that prior knowledge, the listener would likely never suspect otherwise. All in all Awaken in a Different Dimension
is a triumph of musicians in the internet age and an absolute standout within the more creative side of deathcore.