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Unrelenting nihilistic black/thrash - 95%

mutiilator, April 13th, 2008

I decided to check out IXXI (whose name is intended to be a subtle reference to 9/11) after stumbling upon them randomly on the Archives. This came about when I noticed that TotalScorn (TS) was providing vocals for a band I had never heard of before. For those not in the know, TS is the vocalist for the stellar nihilistic black metal band, Zavorash, who also hail from Stockholm and who boast the mighty Necromorbus (of whom should need no introduction) on drums. Similar to Zavorash, IXXI pump out thick, evil metal, but with much more of a thrash influence than previously seen on Zavorash’s fantastic demo and full-length. This translates to a lot more moments of heavy groove, head-banging goodness, with grinding riffs, complimenting leads, and pounding mid-paced, militant drumming. Still, blast beats are dispersed nicely throughout, and the consistent drumming provides a strong backbone to the rest of the music. Also characteristic of this type of music are samples and effects, which, when thrown in, create additional atmosphere on top of the already strangulating tension that builds as the album progresses.

Trademark of both TS’s bands are his vocals. Though not as deep and theatrical as with Zavorash, his throaty growls/snarls are what set him apart from most other higher-pitched BM vocalists. They also work extremely well with music so void of warmth and positive affect that I think that if you switched him with any other vocalist, the music would lose its edge. The lyrics, most, if not all of which, are written by TS are relatively incomprehensible with his singing style, but definitely worth reading for their facetious nature (which one would expect from a band whose name references terrorism). As well, not all of the songs are upbeat and relentless, and “In the Name of Nothing” is a good example of a gloomier, down-tempo track, with TS providing clean vocals that still manage to retain his insanely deep voice. Although nihilistic music is typically pretty gloomy as is, these slower moments and clean vocals go beyond bleakness, dividing the album up nicely with – dare I say – beautiful bouts of moroseness.

Zavorash are currently on hold, as TS and Necromorbus have so many projects going on at the same time. Hopefully this will mean that TS can focus on IXXI for the time being because I definitely like what I hear so far. Although I have yet to hear their other release, Assorted Armament is an amazing example of how black metal is still alive in bands that are willing to stray from the tired and overused formula. Not to say that mixing in thrash elements is original, since that is how BM began in the first place, but with such misanthropic atmosphere, catchy and dark music, and TS’s amazing vocals, it’s hard not to give this album a good rating.