I take a step back about a year and deal with a record released in December 2012: fortunately, music has the merit of not being a product subject to expiration after a certain period of time, so the rediscovery of this wonderful work of the U.S.A. Xanthochroid is a must, in the hope that this may induce other people to include it regularly among their listenings. After two years of activity, marked by a demo and an ep, the guys from Lake Forest don’t enter the scene in a shy way, but they give us a record so varied and original that it’s almost hard to define it in an adequate way: even if they call themselves cinematic black metal, such a label could surely generate misunderstandings. Xanthochroid certainly start from a black base but with a strong progressive component, and not only at the level of attitude since some passages even bring back to the great bands of the ’70s; to all this we can certainly add an intimist folk vein that takes shape for entire songs and, to keep faith with what was promised, the innate ability to create solemn atmospheres, these yes, worthy of being considered in the same way as a particular soundtrack, in the wake of the best Moonsorrow. Through a concept focused on the struggle between two brothers for the succession to the kingdom of their father, the Californian band allows itself to annihilate in comparison to anyone who has attempted in recent years a similar mixture of genres: listen to the spectacular title track, a song in which the initial black matrix ends up dissolving into a melody that does not seem so far from a certain The Court Of The Crimson King (King Crimson and black metal? Why not). Winter’s End takes up the folk soul of Agalloch and manages to surpass the masters, especially for the use of vocals, while Long Live Our Lifeless King is a real centrifuge in which any ingredient that comes to the mind of these extraordinary musicians is put into, to be then put back into circulation in a format that is not only edible but also excitingly tasty. The two parts of Deus Absconditus act as a watershed in a work in which, it is hard to believe, the best is yet to come: The Leper’s Prospect is a delirious symphonic black song with an unforgettable melodic line, and its dramatic mood often induces emotion, a feeling that will not leave the listener until the last note of the album, and that is certainly not quelled in the following In Putris Stagnum, where the dramatic climax reaches its peak thanks to the alternation of different vocal ranges that perfectly render the idea of a painful and excruciating showdown between the protagonists. Here I’ll Stay is a piano instrumental that seems to come out from the pen of Vittorio Nocenzi and introduces the masterpiece of the album that Xanthochroid have rightly placed at its end: Rebirth Of An Old Nation is a track of an unbearable beauty at times, in which the miraculous combination of all the innovative elements that have distinguished bands like Pain Of Salvation, Opeth and Moonsorrow is accomplished, just to name the most easily found, leaving many others along the way for sure. Listening to this work (for which I can only thank those who pointed it out to me) was a thunderbolt, which does nothing but make even more compulsive my personal search for new bands capable of accompanying me in yet another unforgettable musical journey. Blessed He With Boils is a work that encompasses talent, ambition, vision and the ability to assimilate the most disparate influences to create something that frankly you don’t hear very often. This is not the classic work with experimental traits that lovers of make it weird like to talk about, only to be subsequently relegated to the back of dusty shelves; here tons of pathos are unloaded, which, combined with an equally massive dose of madness, give life to a work that, if it had been released this year, would comfortably find a place in my top five of 2013. But, as I wrote at the beginning, at least in music there is no prescription, so enjoy this shining jewel signed by Xanthochroid, you are always in time.

2012 – Erthe and Axen Records