Xanthochroid – Of Erthe And Axen – Act 1

Rating: 4/5
Label/Distributor: Erthe And Axen Records
Label/Distributor URLhttps://www.facebook.com/Erthe-and-Axen-Studios
Released: 2017
Buy Album: http://www.xanthofficial.com/store.html
Band Website: http://www.xanthofficial.com/

Band Line Up

Sam Meador: Vocals/Piano/Keyboards/Acoustic Guitars/Bass/Accordian/Irish Flute/Mandolin/Choral Vocals
Matthew Earl: Vocals/Choral Vocals/Drums/Keyboards/Flute/Recorder/Percussion/Irish Flute
Brent Vallefuoco: Guitars/Choral Vocals
Ali Meador: Vocals/Choral Vocals


Album Track Listing
  1. Open The Gates O Forest Keeper
  2. To Lost And Ancient Gardens
  3. To Higher Climes Where Few Might Stand
  4. To Souls Distant And Dreaming
  5. In Deep And Wooded Forests Of My Youth
  6. The Sound Of Hunger Rises
  7. The Sound Which Has No Name
Album Review

American cinematic Black Metal crew Xanthochroid are epic in every sense of the word. This, their second opus is utterly immense. It is meticulously crafted, and very high concept, and leaves the listener desperate to experience Act 2. What we have here is a meandering masterpiece.

The album opens with the lush panorama of “Open The Gates O Forest Keeper”, a perfect appetite whetter. It is, however, not a repetition of the trite calm-before-the-storm routine that so many bands have used before, as evidenced by the medieval minstrel motifs of “To Lost And Ancient Garden”. Strident and pretty; not words usually associated with Black Metal. It is quite mesmerising and full of alluring darkness.

The maudling and soul-crushingly bleak “To Higher Climes Where Few Might Stand” is next. Dripping with aching passion, it completely absorbs you. Even when the music raises the tempo and aggression level it maintains an unsettling sense of drama. The powerful “To Souls Distant And Dreaming”, all superb splendour and depth of feeling, and “In Deep And Wooded Forests Of My Youth” follow, full of longing spirit and inspired accordion.

“The Sound Of Hunger Rises” is blessed with melodies that stay with you for days. Everything is so tightly controlled and reined in, from the Ihsahn-esque Black Metal croak to the aggressiveness of the drumming to the cinematic scope. Astonishing attention to detail. “The Sound Which Has No Name” provides a venomous final act, woven through with pagan majesty.

Musically “Of Erthe And Axen – Act 1” might not suit diehard BM kvltists who still think that the sun shines out of Euronymous’ long dead arse. Indeed it is a million miles away from the blueprints the likes of Mayhem laid down many a freezing moon ago, but to suggest that it lacks power is to miss the point entirely. Xanthochroid have crafted an awesome spectacle, which in my view perfectly captures the heathen ethos of Black Metal in all its glory. It may sound pompous to some, glorious to others. What is undeniable is the effort and virtuoso musicianship on offer here. If that offends your grim sensibilities then there are plenty of Darkthrone clones out there. Roll on “Act 2”.

Review By Owen Thompson
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