Review: Xerath – III

Location: Basingstoke, England, UK
Genre: Extreme/Progressive Metal
Released: September 15, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

I find that a lot of double albums are overwhelming in nature. Most Ayreon albums, especially The Human Equation, are perfect examples of this, no matter how great the music is. Xerath’s III is among rare company in that it ranks among the few one-disk albums that is just too long for its own good.

Musically, the only flaw I can point to in Xerath’s sound is the mind-numbingly cheesy intro in the opener, “I Hold Dominion.” As I have said many times before, this sort of thing has been done thousands of times before. It comes across as grandstanding and is a blatant cliche in the metal genre. Otherwise, the music sounds great. Angry Metal Guy took the words out of my mouth in saying that this is what a modernized Strapping Young Lad would have sounded like if they were attempting to compose an epic movie soundtrack. Their Wikipedia page basically confirms this. You know what? Sign me up. That sounds awesome. I only regret taking way too long to listen to this album, with it sitting in my inbox for way too long, so that I could claim I said it first.

But there’s one glaring problem. Let’s pretend that the intro in “I Hold Dominion,” which serves no purpose, no longer exists. This would mean every song except for two clocks in between four and five minutes in length. The other two are 5:17 and 5:40 in length, which does not represent a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. And frankly, I cannot tell most of these songs apart. They’re all good, but fourteen tracks of what really does come off as an incredibly long-winded film score makes for an unsustainable listening experience.

If the only thing I cared about was the music on this album, this would be one of the easiest 4.5* ratings I would have given out to this point. The music is certainly unique, and every song is fun to listen to. But I focus on reviewing full albums for their listenability in one sitting. The fact is, I can’t listen to more than five or six tracks from this album without being completely overwhelmed and wanting to listen to something else. Before you accuse me of having a short attention span, save your breath: I had ADHD as a kid and it is entirely possible that I still have it now. If anything, that should further bolster my claims, as the albums that I truly love, from start to finish, are packed with variety. III simply lacks that cohesive, assorted feel that keeps me hooked for the entire album.

I will say, however, that the closing two tracks, a two-part piece called “Veil,” are a true showcase of what Xerath is capable of in terms of this band’s ability to compose brilliant music. If you’re going to set out and create metal with film score stylings, put a concept behind it and run with it. It worked for Ne Obliviscaris, and it can work for Xerath, too.

Overall: A lot to like, but is almost impossible to listen to in one sitting. 

Rating: 3.5* 

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