After listening to the first part of Xanthochroid‘s long-awaited comeback a few months ago, the second chapter of Of Erthe And Axen was released in mid-October. As announced by the band, the sound on this occasion regains the symphonic magniloquence and, at the same time, the metal strength that had been partially sacrificed in the previous episode in favor of an effective folk vein. In fact, after the punctual evocativeness of the intro, with Of Aching, Empty Pain the Californian band makes a sort of musical summary of its repertoire, placing the classic song that mixes with unique brilliance hints of black metal rhythms with wide melodic openings, recalling also the main theme that is the trait d’union of its discography. With Of Gods Bereft Of Grace we enter a new territory, thanks to an iridescent progression in which all of our impulses find their place, reassuring those who feared a drying up of the compositional vein of Sam Meador. Xanthochroid are always able to involve, whatever the stylistic strand chosen, with their unique gift of infusing their music with a cinematic pathos, allowing the listener to fully immerse themselves in their imaginary world to obtain clear visions and as real as ever. Walk With Me, O Winged Mother brings the work back to more rarefied tones, with the intervention of Ali Meador, this time used sparingly, at least for a few minutes before the song mounts from the symphonic point of view to reach peaks of great solemnity. The last twenty minutes of the work show, as usual for the guys from Lake Forest, an emotional crescendo that goes hand in hand with the melodic emphasis, and if in Through Chains That Drag Us Downward it always amazes the mastery with which ours alternate moods and vocal timbres without ever losing the thread of the discord, with Toward Truth and Reconciliation the sound finds its majestic sublimation accompanying us, between a thrill and the other, to a final really worthy of the soundtrack of a film with epic connotations. If Blessed Be With Boils amazed for his being the epiphany of a talent more unique than rare, this double effort does not disappoint expectations, confirming the full value of a band that, in its stylistic segment, has in my opinion already exceeded its masters; wanting to look for the hair in the egg, the only minimal doubts remain relatively to the excessive expansion of time between a full length and the other (although partially offset by over ninety minutes of Of Erthe And Axen) and the ability in the future to free themselves from the lyrical and musical themes of the saga of Thanos and Ereptor without losing the inspiration (as happened instead to Virgin Steele after the epic closed by The House Of Atreus – Act 2). The still young age of Meadow, Earl and Vallefuoco and the crystalline talent exhibited at each release are elements that reasonably allow us to exclude the danger of a short-term tarnish, so we just have to enjoy for a long time and in full this wonderful work, for which it is really worth to devote an hour and a half of your time.
2017 – Erthe and Axen Records