Xenobiotic
Mordrake


3.5
great

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (327 Reviews)
February 26th, 2020 | 69 replies


Release Date: 02/21/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wanna go “Down Under”?

For the last few years, music’s release quality has generally ‘warmed up’ in the dying days of February. There’s something that happens as the year’s first quarter closes that leads us to believe we’re in for yet another great year of music. Call it a hunch, but 2020’s momentum is [now] in full fucking swing. Hailing from the fire ravaged, and occasionally flooding Australia, Xenobiotic’s sophomore speaks volumes of the country’s resilience and overall commitment to self success. How that translates to Mordrake specifically relates more to a larger than life effort, built from a foundation not limited by the confines of a single niche within a genre. The band’s application of brutal sounds are met with doses of technicality and genre hopping - sometimes within the same musical stanza. Xenobiotic’s Mordrake is technically sound, largely balanced within its own need to follow more dynamic, thoughtful song processes. Mordrake is not a perfect record, but the band’s larger than life sophomore is a gusto of fresh energy making the most of what acts like Shadow Of Intent (just for a loose reference) failed to build on.

Even as I loosley state just how these Aussies have capitalised on a scene left wanting by their peers, it’s the band’s tendency to avoid genre conformity that begins to push them ahead of the crowd. Put simply, Xenobiotic’s sophomore straddles the very edge of deathcore, by leaning closer to an undefined version of progressive death metal that lives off atmosphere and brutality. “Insomnia” defines the band’s more atmospheric breakaway from the a-typical chug and growl fests that dominate the genre as discordant notes meet billowing bass lines and building tensions. From there the track is abrasively full on, taking hold of every ravaging death metal aesthetic. “Light That Burns The Sky” carries on in a similar vein taking the quick build in the foundation before it and adding dynamic shifts and mood shifting transitions. Despite the fact the listener has heard less than two of the album’s tracks, Mordrake makes a powerful statement awash with stellar musicianship and particularly visceral death roars. Départe’s Sam Dishington’s inclusion during “Saphris’” offers clean contrast to TJ’s piercing shrieks and bellowing low end. TJ’s clear cut harshness cuts clear of the often oppressive selection of tremolo riffing, blast beats and high octane tempos which gives Xenobiotic’s 2020 piece the staying power to outlast those who venture within a similar sound pool.

Despite the immense power on display here there are a couple of niggling issues that prevent absolute modern death metal supremacy. Namely, the group’s tendency to stick to a brutal low end creates some brick-walling to the brilliance that would be “Dysphoria” or “Acedia”. Mordrake lacks the breathing room to unload mountains of gnasty growls and deathly sickening shrieks. Most of these tracks are largely similar to the next and if not for the occasional featured artist, Xenobiotic’s sound would only be comparable to to a dying genre - rather than a select few up and coming artists. One particular track that pushes past this restriction is the sweltering “Fractured” which takes on a slightly slower, more groove based saunter in combination with TJ’s well-placed tone shifts.

The two-part title tracks are also of particular note. Quiet introductions grace the beginnings of technicality. Flurries of guitar notes marry some complementing double bass work, but nothing here overpowers the next joining feature. It’s a short stint, followed by the Kyle Anderson featured “Acquiesce” which dominates the album’s closing moments in deafening positivity. Xenobiotic’s newest effort is well-worth the hype of modern death metal fans. Despite the polarising gaps between the core and the death metal genre, Mordrake is a prime example of sound innovation while sticking to music that fails to move forward with the times. For Xenobiotic’s sophomore, a fresh look on some done before soundscapes is all that was needed.



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user ratings (65)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2020


11975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album stream: https://youtu.be/YmHxfFNwysQ



3.7/5

Dunpeal
February 26th 2020


4368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

correct rating

Ray91
February 26th 2020


597 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, nice review mate! record's really an interesting take on the edge between technical death metal and core influences. Artwork is awesome and I think this is an example where the featured guests on the album really enhance the sound rather than being placed just as a gimmick

Digging: Temple of Void - The World That Was

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2020


11851 Comments


Death metal is not exactly my thing but always nice reading your reviews. m/

TundraL5Z
February 26th 2020


3836 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was kind of meh on this on first listen, may change though, it was decent

TheNotrap
February 26th 2020


13467 Comments


We have similar feelings about this album. It's super solid deathcore, but sometimes the tracks seem to blend into each other. The drummer is a machine, his double bass performance is phenomenal.

Digging: White Stones - Kuarahy

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2020


19028 Comments


Nice! I was planning to check this tomorrow!

Digging: Pure Reason Revolution - Eupnea

DDDeftoneDDD
February 26th 2020


11129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I enjoyed more second listen. 3.3 for now

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Ray91
February 26th 2020


597 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can definitely see that this will be a grower.

Ray91
February 26th 2020


597 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saphris is my favorite so far I think

DDDeftoneDDD
February 26th 2020


11129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

okay...time for another spin...I felt I miss something...some parts are felt def godly

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2020


10606 Comments


Well done review as per usual. Doesn't sound like my kind of thing provided the deathcore influence remains a strong presence

Digging: The Motion Mosaic - Avant-Garbage

DungeonBoy
February 26th 2020


7610 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a bit core as you said but i don't hate it. It's really solid for what it is, but I personally start to get fatigued by this style and production. It's some good genre blending as you mentioned, it's like deathcore for metal heads. There was a melodic trem bit in the 2nd song where the vox went into a higher register which was a nice change of pace but man some of this really plods along..

Digging: Sentient Divide - Haunted by Cruelty

DDDeftoneDDD
February 26th 2020


11129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Grieving the Loss of Self fucks m/

bloc
February 26th 2020


60163 Comments


Album cover reminds me of the latest Cattle Decap album

DDDeftoneDDD
February 26th 2020


11129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Can remember a handful more similar than that one. What a stretch, although some of the colors are there...

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2020


11975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's yet another Lewandowski art. Guy is becoming metal mainstream

bloc
February 26th 2020


60163 Comments


Ah no wonder. Band logo is placed in the same spot too

DDDeftoneDDD
February 26th 2020


11129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You guys know your shit! I bet bloc knew this before he made the comment, only to hit the spotlight...eh!

bloc
February 26th 2020


60163 Comments


Oh you sly devil you

I'm assuming he's the same dude who did the cover for Portent by False?



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