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XenoBiotic - Mordrake: Review

Australian progressive death metal outfit XENOBIOTIC have returned with their sophomore album Mordrake, which will be unleashed on the masses February 21st 2020 on Unique Leader Records.

Diving headfirst into the intense follow up to their well-received debut studio album Prometheus, Xenobiotic finds themselves delving deeper into the murky underworld of their own creation, using their technical brutality and atmospheric sound as a vessel.

To become immersed in Mordrake is a dark and twisting journey to undertake when asked, Xenobiotic said of the album “For the last year, we have worked tirelessly to complete the next chapter in this bands journey. With new members, new influences and a refined vision, we strived to elevate our sound to heights unexplored by this band to date.

Looking back on 2019 and what we have managed to create, we are extremely proud and hope this record connects with all of you the way it has with us.

This album is more than just an arrangement of music. It is our darkest secrets, our worst fears and our most vivid nightmares. It is everything that casts a shadow over you and I."

The album was recorded and mixed by Matthew Templeman (Make Them Suffer) and mastered by Simon Struthers at Forensic Audio. Artwork for the effort was done by the excellent Mariusz Lewandowski who has recently produced cover work for acts such as Psycroptic, Bell Witch and Fuming Mouth.

There is a lot of weight to Mordrake, it's a relentless display of technical and tightly produced Death Metal. The thundering Light That Burns The Sky lands with the impact of a mile wide meteorite but changes shape towards it's close with a tempo change and the addition of harmonics before slamming once again before it's through. Tracks such as this one display Xenobiotic's wide range of abilities when it comes to their craft.

This album is more than just an arrangement of music. It is our darkest secrets, our worst fears and our most vivid nightmares. It is everything that casts a shadow over you and I."

The earth-shattering Acedia shows the album has no intention of restriction and nor should it when such a crushing sound can be engineered. This is intelligent, progressive and brutal Death Metal of the highest order and it demands your attention and respect and it's not afraid to reach out a grab it.

Saphris is also well worth mentioning, it's intro completely changing the feel fo the album for a few short moments and reminds you that Xenobiotic can create stunning soundscapes in between crushing metal. The track featuring the multi-talented Sam Dishington (Départe, Idle Pulse, No Lower Place to Fall) goes on to deliver a one-two punch of heaviness and atmosphere that's executed superbly with a beautiful guitar solo and clean vocals adding depth not just to the track but to the record as a whole.

Deep cut Grieving the Loss of Self places the album squarely back in its course of demolition after a short interlude showcasing a blend of growls, screeches and chanting vocals, producing a destructive tone which refuses to yield. The album closes with Mordrake I: Reverie and Mordrake II: Acquiesce (feat. Kyle Anderson) the first of which is a ruthless drum and vocal-heavy assault that tapers off, back into the atmospheric soundscape before the latter picks back up and lands the final blow of sheer, clenched fist brutality to close out the album.

Overall, Mordrake is an insanely heavily, well constructed technical, death metal record and one that is sure to permeate through 2020 and ensure Xenobiotic are set for a great year ahead, especially when it comes to touring the album. Be sure to add this to your early buys come the new year.

Overall 9/10