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Glorious Nocturnal Manifestations From A Powerful Debut Release - 85%

LarsA81, May 9th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Independent (Digipak)

As a teen I often ventured into various music stores to buy a lot of different metal releases. Sometimes I knew what I wanted, other times, I let myself be drawn to releases that had the coolest covers, the gnarliest logos or the most epic band pictures on the back. I discovered a lot of interesting music this way. And now, many years later, the cover art of Xenoblight’s debut Procreation mesmerized me like a lot of the album covers back then. That cover is just mind-blowingly gorgeous and I love every detail of the artwork. Luckily, the cover art isn’t the only thing that is mind-blowing about this release.

For way too many years, the Danish metal scene has been rather stagnant and predictable. Bands seemed to be following the same formular and finding inspiration in all the albums release just prior to their own, rarely looking outside the box. It got boring. However, these past 8-10 years, a number of new artists and bands has come forth with new sounds and ideas and has equally been looking deep into the past and has simultaneously been shaping the path of things to come. The scene is very much alive and Xenoblight is a firm proof of this.

After a short and rather beautiful acoustic intro, the onslaught begins and doesn’t really let up until the final track. Xenoblight is truly a beast that grabs the listeners by the throat, and slaps them in the face. With their blend of extreme metal genres - mainly modern sounding death metal mixed with some prog and a bit of thrash - the bombardment of technical guitar riffs and vital drumming is massive. And namely the guitars is what I find the most interesting about this debut. Mikkel Jepsen and Rasmus Clemmensen hits every note on the fretboard and creates everything from great groove parts to technical wizardry and rather catchy metal riffs to interesting and well-played solos. It all remains fresh and interesting throughout the album - also after multiple spins! And Steffen Hagelskjær is in on all the fun as well, as he is just as active on the bass, hitting every note. The overall mix of the album is good, and the bass is just that tiny bit more up-front on this release compared to so many other metal releases, and I love it!! Hagelskjær has a few moments on his own throughout the album, and every moment soothes the songs really well. “Shapeshifter” being the most notable one - the intro is just so damn good! The only issue I have with the production is, here and there, the drums does sound a bit flat. Maybe they are mixed a bit too hard and it has drained some of the highs and lows of the toms. But it isn’t a big issue at all. And speaking of drums, Thomas Madsen beats the shit out of all of them! He does an amazing job and has plenty of cool surprises in his playing throughout the album. So, to sum up the music, these guys are just amazing at what they do. And I get the feeling that each song could be written as an instrumental piece, as the music feels alive and breathing constantly. It is both progressing yet having some killer hooks, and it’s a great enjoyment to listen to, and never really gets boring.

When I go to shows, which I do often, I want to sing along as loud as I can - But Marika Hyldmar is hard to keep up with!! She has both lighting fast parts and slower sections where she really stretches some awesome screams. Most of the time, it’s a scream, rather high-pitched, but she also does a lot of lower growls. There’s a lot of talent here, and it fits the music well. It all melts together and is a sonic blast. But her vocal-skills isn’t the only thing that’s hard to keep up with. The lyrics are too! This isn’t the simplicity of Kill ‘Em All! The lyrics are clearly well thought through and almost poetic and seem to come from a dark corner of the mind/heart.

But it’s not all praises! I do have a bit of a hard time with the final track “Virus”. It’s a bit slower and more dark in its compositions compared to the other songs. And most notably, the vocal technic is a bit different. Marika does some serious screams and growls and stretches them a lot - it almost reminds me of old Zao. Almost. The skills are clearly there, and it’s obviously ment to be a bit different than the rest of the album, but it’s forced a bit too much. It comes off as wanting to be too different. Still, it’s a good song, but it’s not on level with the rest of the album. And it doesn’t help me, that it’s the final track of the album either. I think it would have fit better somewhere in the middle of the album.

Overall, this is one hell of a powerful debut from an amazing band, and I strongly recommend checking these guys and gal out! I quickly got hooked to Procreation, and you might as well. And if you ever get a chance to see them live, please do! They deliver a great show, and Marika is a great front-figure. And speaking of shows with Xenoblight, I am off to one now….