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Otargos - Xeno Kaos - 92%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 29th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Kaotoxin Records (Limited edition, Digisleeve)

Otargos is another one of those bands from the Xenokorp/Kaotoxin roster of which I have never heard of before. I have been surprised to see that “Xeno Kaos” has already been their 6th full length. On the other hand the flow of releases is endless and one can only know and check out so many bands. In this case I am glad to have discovered this band although this record got some mixed reviews from what I have seen.

This might partially be due to the fact that there is nothing really new to be found on “Xeno Kaos”. This is another one of those examples where a solid and traditional Death Metal basis is enhanced by some Black Metal epics. The tremolo riffing reminds of well-known peers like Behemoth or Vader and while this might sound a bit negative they are played with a lot of perfection. Each song has trademark chords that are hitting hard and that are presented with just enough variation to keep things fresh enough over the whole playing time. The star of the show might be the lead guitar work which is phenomenal in places with harmonies ranging from melancholic and hypnotic to epic and uplifting. I am always impressed when guitar playing is able to create a certain mood.

The drumming is on point and thankfully not too chaotic or nervous. Even when the tempo is upped everything stays in line and the clear structure of each song is followed until the end. There are some blast-beat sections but they are only used in certain moments. Most of the time the beat has a nice and straight groove which makes the tracks quite accessible.

While the instrumentation is very professional the album is more about delivering an atmospheric and stringent piece of music than about technical prowess. Nearly each song has some parts in which the instrumentation is toned down to make place for atmospheric samples and melodic interludes. Most of the time the tempo is kept in mid-tempo with only a few speedier sections sprinkled across the record. Because of that those pieces are even more intense as the eruptions of aggressiveness often come unexpected.

The vocals are also done in a convincing manner. The growling is not too deep but there are no screams or clean parts. Each word is audible and the lyrics can easily be understood.

The production is very polished and while a few might argue that the mix is too clean I believe this is the way such music has to sound. I like some filthy and putrid stuff as well but there is so much going on here that it needs a clear mix to capture all the different layers. I would have been a shame if any of the symphonic elements would have been buried.

Overall “Xeno Kaos” has been a great listen and although there is not much innovation to be found here this is an album that any fan of this genre should be able to enjoy.