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3.75 | 4 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2014

Filed under Symphonic Metal


1. Xenon (7:37)
2. Ailthea (4:54)
3. Zoticus (4:06)
4. Terrae (5:26)
5. Tartarus (5:41)
6. Phedra (4:47)
7. Thales (6:55)
8. Erebus (3:28)
9. Amyntas (3:49)
10. Actaeon (2:55

Total Time 49:38


- Joe Tiberi / guitars, programming
- David Holch / vocals
- David Gavin / drums
- Steve Amarantos / bass

About this release

January 1st, 2014. Self-released.

Thanks to Wilytank for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Despite my initial indifference towards Mechina and their 2013 album Empyrean, I have revisited the album quite a number of times and my interest in their music has grown to the point that when they released Xenon early this year I was intrigued. I was in the mood for another sci-fi epic in musical form since these guys definitely had something interesting going on in that last album. What I discovered was a definite improvement over Empyrean in many ways. The epic theatrical setting I was looking for in Empyrean is much more apparent here and I definitely had way more fun with this album.

Right from the start of the guitar playing, I could tell two very important flaws have been fixed since the last album. First, the mix isn't ass. I know Empyrean was re-mixed but I listened to that and the re-mix didn't help; but here on Xenon, everything is so crisp and clear with the instruments but especially the guitars. Speaking of which, the second major improvement is the added variety in the guitar work. Most of Empyrean's guitars were spent chugging or djenting and for the most part weren't very interesting to follow, but now they've got a more straightforward industrial feel to them with sounding like they landed somewhere between Sybreed and Strapping Young Lad. In other words, this album's guitars are what Empyrean's guitar tracks should have sounded like. All in all, Xenon is much more well executed than Empyrean so much that even though it's actually a few seconds longer than that album, it feels shorter because it's much more enjoyable to go through.

The symphonic programming is still omnipresent, but this time it melds better with the rest of the music since it's not the sole thing pushing the music forward anymore. The minute spanning piano/choir build up is a lot quieter than "Aporia" on the previous album but nonetheless provides some ambient prelude to the interstellar warfare that begins almost abruptly at the first minute mark. Imagine the opening theme for Halo starting off an album; that's what the type of mood being set here. Then throughout the rest of the album, it's this sort of Two Steps From Hell symphony thrown alongside the metal music. It certainly makes the title track much more epic sounding especially on the awesome chorus in that song. There's a couple of times that where the band opted for some more electronic elements too, most notably on "Zoticus" which ended up being one of the highlights of this album.

One thing I did notice about the overall atmosphere in the tracks is that the heroic tone present on tracks like "Interregnum", "Imperialus", "Anathema", "Empyrean" and "Infineon" on the last album is largely absent here. The overall tone on this album seems a lot more foreboding with the noteworthy exception being the more upbeat "Zoticus".

There are a few more pressing downsides. David Holch's vocals sound pretty good, particularly his harsh vox, but this time around there's more apparent use of auto-tune and other modulative fuckery done with his clean verses. There's quite a few instances of his voice being intentionally chopped up by the mixing and it does get a little grating, especially since this was less obvious in Mechina's past work. Furthermore, while I did find Xenon easier to go through than Empyrean, it does seem to lose energy towards the end. "Erebus" and "Amytas" are weak tracks to end the album on especially since they sort of blend together. It certainly doesn't help that the album starts with its best track either, the title track. Setting the high water mark early tends to have an effect on the rest of the album. This whole album's span can be compared to that of a dying star, first expanding into a red giant before collapsing into a white dwarf. Though there still is some shining light at the end of the white dwarf stage which here is in the form of the album's true closer the tranquil "Actaeon" which revisits the piano piece from the beginning of the album.

So there's a few things Mechina still need to tighten up, but they've definitely have improved. Xenon, while far from perfect, is the band's most rewarding listening experience to date. Definitely worth checking out for those interested in symphonic metal with an industrial twist. I myself am still intrigued by what this band can offer and await more of their material.


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