Album Review: Xenobiotic – Mordrake (Feb 21st)

By Carcassbomb

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Here’s the perfect storm of pre-release bait for me, it’s an Australian tech death release featuring the artwork of Mariousz Lewandowski (I know how we all feel but this one’s really good). Xenobitoic: ‘A xenobiotic is a chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced or expected to be present within the organism“ are a tech deathcore band from Australia’s new metal mecca, Perth. Take a look at my Top 25 Australian Metal Releases article and drink every time I wrote Perth, then just drink recreationally. Mordrake releases on the 21st of February and features a couple of guests vocals that really make their tracks for me. Expect more of a scifi prog approach than a bunch of breakdowns, we’re telling a story here with an album of a higher brow. 

Artwork by Mariousz Lewandowski

“Light That Burns The Sky” is the second track on the album and hits hard, like I started contemplating this as an AOY album and I’m writing this in 2019 kind of hard. I calmed down a bit with the following track, the structure of this album seems to be about positioning it’s peaks around more patient songwriting. It’s not constantly showboating on an instrumental level which is good but it also doesn’t showboat enough and you might blank out a bit sometimes. Highlights are the vocals which have enough range that I had to investigate to see if the band had a dual vocals role but nope. Lows and highs for days son, one of those “rapping death” vocalists who can pull a Corey Taylor clean whenever they want. I just wish the drums weren’t so overproduced, I want to hear that wet bassy kick sound with a bit more force. You know me though, I want every mix to be a sludge mix. I’m more of a dirty bum who dances to bass driven jigs while this album is a service car full of suits passing me by on the street.

Cover art by you know who. I honestly thought I could not bear to see another piece from the artist after he flooded the market recently, lessening the impact of covers like Walk Beyond The Dark by Abigail Williams that came out later in the year. We all get it now, the juxtaposition of the big things and small with a very specific color pallette… but this one feels different? It refreshed my threshold a little bit and hints at some new techniques. This feels like the first time the giant has really been matched by something seemingly as powerful as it, in fact this creature almost seems to be in service of the smaller creatures in some way. Notice the stab wounds either side of itself? There’s something deeply esoteric and meaningful going on there in my head and the more I look the more I want to try and decode it. That’s the mark of good art. A piece to think about, it has that little bit extra oomph that many of his other more barren works lack. 

So in order to decode art you generally go to the themes which on this record is apparently “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.” according to the band. Now look at the art again. Oooh. I think Mr Sky Skele is like the voice in our head that torments us for our actions or perceptions, judgement from beneath our skin, the skull. The people INSIDE of the creature are these actions and perceptions, our repugnant organs. The creature is the body who must atone through flagellation, the altar of thy body – host to ritual sacrifice. That’s my take, feel free to have yours for dinner.   

The potential is oozing from each track especially making use of the Unique Leader Records studios… is the potential always fulfilled? Not always, but on the single tracks it sure as hell is. It’s very clear which tracks are going to be the crowd favorites. I predict “Saphris” will pound your heart and make for a memorable moment, particularly the clean delivery from guest vocalist Sam Dishington who has fingies in a lot of Aussie pots like vocals for the band Départe. I wasn’t paying attention to the tracks while listening initially so I didn’t see the guest credit, it wasn’t jarring at all to have clean vocals enter into an album halfway through – it carried so much weight. I wish more bands would do this, no one said you can’t have dedicated cleans in deathcore, you just have to ration them… to a single track and a guy who does them really well. 

The entire rhythm section is pretty new but that doesn’t tend to matter too much with major label bands. These kinds of bands typically get plenty of time to synergise and hone their skills because it is their job now and not just a dream to chase while also working at Coles. I’m sure they all have their own shit going, but I’m also sure they can get together and really practice hard. If you look at all the Australian bands putting out stuff on major labels right now it’s always hyper-modern sounds like Thy Art Is Murder, Disentomb, Psycroptic and Aversions Crown. We make the shit your kids love and these are the bands finding success within this country. It’s a demanding genre on a technical level so there’s far worse things that could be the status quo for us. 

It’s going to be a hit and there’s nothing you can do about it. For Australia pre orders click here.

Carcassbomb @ Noob Heavy Team

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