Monday, September 9, 2013

Xothist- s/t LP (Fallen Empire Records)

Xothist's debut album has been out for a while now, but up until just recently it had only been available on a highly limited cassette from the now defunct Bleak Environment. Thanks to Fallen Empire Records, this album has now seen release on vinyl with a recent remaster and is finally getting the more widespread attention it deserves. As Xothist's sole member is a former member of the indescribable Tollund Men, it's no surprise that the suffocating brand of ambient black metal presented here is unique and highly unorthodox. This album has been a quick seller, so check out my review and then grab a copy quickly, before they vanish entirely.

Each side of this record contains a single track just under twenty-one minutes long, allowing Xothist to slowly craft a dense and precise atmosphere rather than rushing any musical ideas. The heavy electronic elements presented here add a rather uneasy feeling to the music, and the first number of minutes of either side of the record captures the feeling of being hunted down. I'm not sure if Xothist is the predator or if he's conveying his experience as the prey, but it's unsettling regardless. When the electronic tension finally breaks into a cathartic explosion of distorted guitars and vocals, it still feels like there is a smothering element to the music. Everything seems to be either hidden behind a veil of some sort, or perhaps it's even just pushing down heavily on the listener. The feeling of a struggle is apparent in every moment of this recording, whether nearly silent or bursting with energy. The music often pours over at a mid-paced gallop, with electronic chaos exploding in the distance from time to time. While the production allows me to hear most of what's happening, there is an intentional blurring of instruments that creates a more textured and oppressive feeling than many similarly paced black metal albums would attain. When the speed picks up, it still feels pained on an almost cosmic level rather than "evil" as many faster black metal releases seem to strive for. Indeed, Xothist emanates suffering, mechanical disconnection, and universal emptiness far more than evil, hatred, or aggression. While I am not privy to the lyrical content, I'd be quite interested to know what's going on here, as the music is far more compelling and intelligent than the average black metal release.

Copies of this album with patches (pictured immediately above) are in short supply, although regular copies still remain for the time being. If you don't want to be left behind, I recommend making a purchase immediately. It's only $16 and well worth it. As always, Fallen Empire has made this album available as a "pay what you like" download from their bandcamp if you aren't entirely ready for this on vinyl, although I have no idea why you wouldn't want this album in your grubby little hands.

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