Xenobiotic – Mordrake (Review)

Xenobiotic - MordrakeThis is the second album from Xenobiotic, an Australian deathcore/death metal band.

2018’s Prometheus was a deathcore highlight for me, so I was looking forward to what they had in store for us next. I was not expecting just how good Mordrake is though. The band have progressed, and progressed well.

The death metal sensibility that underpinned Prometheus seems to have been expanded upon with Mordrake, as do some of their other extreme metal influences. Deathcore is still a part of the band’s sound, but there’s more of a technical/progressive death metal feel to Xenobiotic these days. The songs are generally longer and more ambitious than those of the debut album too, allowing Xenobiotic more room to explore the extreme metal landscape that they lord it over with confidence and ease.

This is brutal music, but it’s peppered with thoughtful inclusions, ideas, and moments of intrigue. This could be in the form of unexpected melodies, solos, a piano, an atmospheric segment, immersive riffing, black metal elements, or some rarely-used clean singing. Xenobiotic seem less constrained by genre restrictions than many of their erstwhile peers, which comes in no small part from the wider metal influences that the band willingly embrace. You might get crushing djent riffs one moment, followed by a melodically charged blackened burst of speed, followed by death metal brutality, as just one example of many.

Tight and precise, the songs are played with skill and finesse, and no small amount of passion. This is a ferocious album that allows itself the freedom to roam, delivering modern extreme metal that’s professional and adept. With a surprising amount of emotive content set alongside the harsh aggression, this is an album that’s both sophisticated and base, at home with high brow concepts and delivery, as well as pit-friendly breakdowns and raw brutality. Atmosphere and emotion are just as much a part of Xenobiotic in 2020 as crushing heaviness is.

Mordrake is a great progression for Xenobiotic, and demonstrates a talented band coming firmly into their own. This is seriously good, a really exceptional release. Make sure you don’t miss out on this one.

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