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An Exhausting, but Rewarding Journey - 85%

Svartekrist, August 6th, 2011

Not many seem to be aware of this, but Israel is the home of many talented metal bands, and Xenolith are no exception. For Obscure Reflections, they play a melodic progressive style of death metal, with emphasis on melodic and not so much on the progressive part. And though not labeled as so, there is as well much brutality to find here, albeit very refined and controlled. If not dedicating too much thought to it, it may actually seem as if there are a little of everything from death metal sub-genres. That is of course purely superficial.

But aside from seeming to have a little of everything, what is to be found? The music in general is quite melodic and play out with a simple but effective sense of intricacy. The guitars are relatively standard but do deliver some rather harmonious leads here and there. The drums however, range from raging brutality to technical rhythms and slow sections. Sadly, the bass is rather drowned and honestly, it is hard to pick up what it is doing. As for the vocals, they are more growled than anything else, they can also be somewhat high, but are delivered with force and conviction.

The mixing and production are fairly good and shows quality. They do not work in favor of everything, but aside that and as said, are fairly good. The musicians show that they are in synch and capable of making great music, so overall, there is good chemistry. The songwriting itself is pretty good, but suffers at the length of the majority of the songs, all except for two songs, clock in at over ten minutes each. This can be a little tiring and is sadly a big problem, as you might get a little tired before it is even over.

The biggest shortcoming of Obscure Reflections are the song lengths, and to a lesser extent, the lack of an audible bass guitar. But behind these problems, a well executed album is found that in the end excel many of their peers.

Stand-out tracks: An Apparition's Dirge, Desolated Spirits.
8,5/10

A real value for money - 80%

twan666, March 16th, 2010

Welcome to a voyage through progressive music and lots of emotions. Hailing from Tel Aviv, Israel, Xenoliths music is based on melodic Death Metal with numerous other influences like the already mentioned progressive parts as well as unpredictable accoutic additions and sometimes even real quiet Opeth-like and atmospheric passages. But let´s take a close-up look at the songs.

With 4 songs over 10 minutes of playing time, it should be crystal clear the guys of Xenolith offer intricate song structures with variable riffs, lots of melodic insets and complex arrangements. So if you´re looking for sleazy cockrock vibes or maybe raw Goregrind with drum computer blasting, “Obscure Reflections” will be the wrong choice for you. Instead of that, fans of playful progressive Death Metal should continue to read. Like already mentioned, it would be wrong to reduce Xenolith to their Death Metal basement. There´s a lot more to discover on this release and it surely demands repetitive listening sessions to get completely into it. The rhythm section delivers more than just the usual frame and contributes various enrichments to the tracks. The vocalist reminds me of Dark Tranquillitys Mikael Stanne with a few additional darker growls. Ok, this is nothing extremely spectacluar or innovative, but it fits Xenoliths music very well. Produced by Yuval Kremier and Erez Yohanan at Amaseffer Studios, Israel and mastered at Bazement Studios, Germany, the recording quality could be easily described as energetic and beneficial.

Talking about a debut album, there´s always some space for changes or improvements, but I think the guys made the right choice concerning recording and mastering. Clocking in with approx. 55 minutes of total playing time, it´s plain to see “Obscure Reflections” is real value for money and suitable for every supporter of progressive and open-minded Death Metal. It´s hard to emerge from the overcrowded and unclear music market, but fans and friends of Obscura or similar bands shouldn´t hesitate to check Xenolith out. I´m sure you won´t regret supporting this interesting underground Metal outfit.

Originally written for http://www.brutalism.com