Symphonic Metal • United Kingdom

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XERATH is a symphonic progressive extreme metal act formed in 2007 in Basingstoke, United Kingdom. The band was formed by guitarist Andy Phillips, drummer Michael Pitman and bassist Owain Williams. They were later joined by vocalist Richard Thomson

XERATH signed to Candlelight Records in early 2009 and released their debut full-length studio album called "I," on the 25th of May 2009.

The band play a heavy style of metal with rough vocals, chugging riffs and a bombastic use of symphonic keyboards/synths. Influences from acts such as MESHUGGAH, DIMMU BORGIR and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD are often mentioned and the band themselves call their music orchestral groove metal.

Their second album, "II", was released in 2011.

( Biography written by UMUR)
Thanks to UMUR for the addition and bartosso, adg211288 for the updates

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I by Xerath (2009-08-11)I by Xerath (2009-08-11)
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II by Xerath (CD, Apr-2011, Candlelight) II by Xerath (CD, Apr-2011, Candlelight) USD $7.98 Buy It Now 22h
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Xerath - III CD 2014 modern progressive orchestral Candlelight Xerath - III CD 2014 modern progressive orchestral Candlelight USD $13.95 Buy It Now 29 days
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.. Album Cover 3.90 | 13 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 3.60 | 12 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2014

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Unite to Defy
Symphonic Metal 2011

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XERATH Reviews


Album · 2009 · Symphonic Metal
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"I" is the debut full-length studio album by UK symphonic extreme metal act Xerath. The album was released through Candlelight Records in May 2009. The band was formed in 2007 and signed to the label in early 2009.

The band play a heavily orchestrated extreme metal style. The extreme metal part of their sound is influenced by the likes of Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad. Especially chugging groove based angular riffing play a big part on the album. Xerath are no one-trick pony though and the music features influences from all sorts of other artists and musical styles too. Sometimes bordering progressive metal. The classically inspired synth/keyboards work is very impressive and are well integrated with the other parts of the music. Lead vocalist Richard Thomson is quite the asset to the band´s sound. He is a very skilled extreme metal vocalist able to sing in quite a few different styles. The rest of the band are very well playing too.

...the most important thing though is that the music is really powerful and punchy. The symphonic element doesn´t take away any heaviness and just gives the music a slight polished edge and not a power stealing one. The sound production definitely deserves a mention too for helping to achieve this.

Despite the obvious influences heard in the music I´d actually call the music on "I" pretty original or at least inventive and adventurous. It´s not easy to combine heavy riffing and symphonic synths/keyboards and come away successful, but Xerath manage to do just that on "I" and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.


Album · 2009 · Symphonic Metal
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Conor Fynes
'I' - Xerath (7/10)

Held as one of the most acclaimed metal debuts in 2009, Xerath comes onto the scene with a fairly exciting sound. Although the djent, Meshuggah-laden sound that Xerath plays was already well trodden by the time this album was released, Xerath adds something new and exciting to it; an orchestral, symphonic backing. It comes as no surprise then, that Xerath holds a very epic sound to them. Xerath has a very professional sound to them, even this early on, and while I found myself very disappointed by their sophomore, Xerath shows alot of potential with this impressive first album.

When describing their sound, I hear the powerful chugging grooves of bands like Gojira and Meshuggah, along with the thrashy grandeur of Strapping Young Lad. On top of that, there is this orchestral sound that follows the metal instruments throughout this album, adding plenty of depth to the sound, although it rarely ever takes a forefront in Xerath's music. Speaking of the band's metal sound, it is heavy and oftimes technical, with plenty of chuggy riffs to make up the meat of the band's sound. The vocals here are growled and screamed, like a less melodic Joe Duplantier (of Gojira). The riffs and instrumentation are focused more on rhythm than melody, although the orchestral element adds a slightly more melodic and harmonious edge. True enough, there are plenty of riffs here that get my head banging, although overall, I find that there could have been some extra melodies or more memorable moments around the album to grasp onto. As it stands, Xerath's 'I' sounds more or less the same all throughout, with the obvious 'Interlude' exception being composed only of the symphonic element.

As far as orchestral sounds go in metal, much of it does pass me as being a gimmick, attempting to get the depth of a symphony, without the effort of a complex arrangement. I experienced that disappointment on the band's second album 'II', but in retrospect, 'I' actually has some very complimentary orchestral elements. It would be somewhat boring without the metal elements, but there is an authentic sound to the symphonic elements, and they have a great effect for the atmosphere. Taking Xerath's music from the orchestral angle, it sounds alot like the incidental music for some science fiction epic soundtrack.

Xerath has made a very professional sounding album here, and at a perfect length for this sort of music, it never gets boring. I would have liked some more variety and a sense of surprise in music like this, as Xerath never changes lanes from the first song to last. They do however have a great grasp of their style on this album, and clever enough to bring something new to the table, this is a band that stands on their own two feet in the crowded djent community.


Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal
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Conor Fynes
'II' - Xerath (4/10)

Xerath is a band from the UK that got some people excited with their debut. In 2009, the roman-numerically designated 'I' impressed many who listened with its powerhouse take on progressive metal, falling somewhat into what some call the 'djent' sound in metal, but also bringing some new sounds to the table, most notably some orchestral sounds. Technically impressive progressive metal with symphonic undertones is a fascinating formula in concept, and with their follow-up album 'II', Xerath continues to explore this sound. True enough to the acclaim I've been hearing about the band, they certainly know how to bring their skill as musicians to the table. All the same however, I am finding that this band's so-called 'distinctive' elements pass me as being little more than gimmicks, although by all intents, this is a decent contribution to the djent music community.

What one is bound to hear on a song from this album will generally consist of heavy, palm- muted guitar riffs that sound quite a bit like Meshuggah, as well as some screamed vocals and a heavy synth presence. For those uninformed about the djent sound, it is essentially a group of bands that dabble in the strange rhythms and palm-muted guitar techniques that Meshuggah largely pioneered, and as far as emulating Meshuggah's deep grooves go, Xerath succeeds. These are technical riffs that have 'progressive metal' spelled all over them, although despite the technical achievement of these guitar parts, there is very little melodic structure to them, and they start feeling all the same by the time the album is over. While Xerath executes their sound beautifully, the inherent lack of melody or surprise in this music led me feeling the unwanted sense of deja vu long before the album was over, and it makes the album's fifty-odd minute length feel much longer than it actually is.

The thing that many have been really swooning over with this band are the so-called orchestral elements. Xerath self-proclaims themselves to be 'orchestral groove metal', and while they do have the effective repetition and groove aspect down, the orchestral element here was what really disappointed me. Instead of a full blown symphonic arrangement or even fleshed string section as the term 'orchestral' implies, I was confronted by fairly cheap- sounding emulations, most likely either done on a computer, or with a synth. It's quite understandable that a working band is not often able to afford an orchestra, but things could have still worked out brilliantly if the arrangements here were anything that truly lived up to an orchestral standard. Instead, there is no symphonic element that gets me even close to thinking I'm hearing an orchestral score, usually, the orchestra is merely adding a deeper sound miles behind the metal aspect of Xerath, sustaining a note and then changing with the chords. The symphonic presence here does add a new depth to the band's sound, but overall, it feels more like a half-successful gimmick to distinguish themselves, rather than a valid artistic accomplishment.

Xerath's 'II' is a well-performed album, but there is nothing to the music that ever really excites me; the djenty tones and proggy metal riffs are all things that have been done much better by other acts doing a similar thing, and while Xerath should be acknowledged for trying to bring something new to the sound, the orchestral thing isn't doing much for them.


Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal
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England's Xerath really hit a home run with their debut full-length, I, back in 2009. The band's unique blend of groove metal and symphonic orchestrations immediately gained them recognition from metal fans worldwide - myself included. Two years later, and Xerath have returned with the equally imaginatively-titled II. While still staying true to their core sound, the band sounds even more mature and experienced this time around, making II the best release Xerath has put together to date. Anyone who enjoys groove metal, symphonic keyboards, and progressive overtones definitely owes it to themselves to check out yet another fantastic effort from Xerath.

Like their debut album, the music on II is very much like Swedish veterans Meshuggah, but with orchestrations and a slightly more melodic approach. If you're an extreme metal purist, don't let the symphonic keyboards scare you away - they are extremely well-done and never detract from the other instrumentation, but instead add a haunting element to Xerath's music. Aside from the orchestral elements, the music here is a heavy and technical mix of thrash metal, death metal, and groove metal; mostly played in a downtuned, "djent" style. Although music this heavy and technical could get monotonous, II is an exceptionally well-written album and every composition is memorable, given enough time to sink in. This does take a few spins to fully grasp, but once you give it the time it deserves, II reveals itself as a terrific album.

The production and musicianship here are both absolutely wonderful. I remember back when I came out that I was very impressed by the technical capabilities of Xerath, and it seems that they've improved even more since then. I especially have to mention guitarist Owain Williams and drummer Michael Pitman when discussing the musicianship here - both of these guys are especially spectacular musicians, and an absolute blast to listen to. As previously mentioned, the production is great and provides a slick, powerful, and polished sound that suits the music perfectly.

In case you haven't checked out Xerath yet, II is probably their best release to date. This album shows a band oozing with creativity, inspiration, and plenty of damn good extreme metal to offer. II should reveal itself as one of the year's best metal albums - it really is that good. Anyone who enjoys crushingly heavy groove metal with a sense of melody and taste for orchestrations should definitely further investigate this great album. 4 stars are well-deserved.


Album · 2011 · Symphonic Metal
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II is the imaginatively titled second album from UK metal band Xerath. The band is one of those that is difficult to pigeonhole in any one sub-genre, their music usually ending up as a combination of progressive, symphonic, groove and a little bit of death metal (mostly in the vocals), though the groove and symphonic elements are what forms the core of the band’s sound. They’re also one of the bands being associated with this whole ‘djent’ scene, although I recently found out through an interview with the band that they consider the scene ridiculous (something this reviewer quite agrees with). The major difference to other bands lumped into that scene is that Xerath is one of the few that produces generally exciting and un-generic music.

II kicks off with lead single Unite to Defy, a track which really highlights the band’s symphonic side before kicking off into some groovy guitar riffs. The mostly screamed vocals fit the music extremely well and the track sets up the template for the Xerath sound that can be expected of the album from herein. That isn’t to say that the album is predictable, because it certainly isn’t. Each track has an identity of its own while retaining that Xerath sound. The symphonic elements in the band’s sound really make the album for me though, because it’s actually rare that you’ll find a symphonic metal album delivered in quite this manner, and it makes Xerath stand out from the crowd. The album has an incredible flow to it, which results in something really epic, and I must say that even with a length of nearly an hour I don’t want the experience to end.

With an album such as II where the quality of all the tracks maintains such a high standard it is impossible to single out a few highlights as this album is one big highlight. I’m not personally completely familiar with the band’s first album I, but from what I’ve heard from it II improves on it in every way possible, so I expect established fans of the first album will really lap II up, and I also expect that it will be catching the attention of many potential new fans, and may cause others who were not convinced by I to re-evaluate Xerath.

Overall II by Xerath is a very impressive beast from this young band and it sees them really hitting their stride. It is an album where the first impressions are excellent and subsequent listens take the album up even into higher levels of greatness. This is a great album from one of the UK’s most promising young metal bands, whom any self-respecting metal fan should be paying attention to.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

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