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Wow... - 90%

0nlyDeathIsReal, June 13th, 2013

Xenotaph are a three-piece black metal horde hailing from the Bay Area, California. Although this EP is their first recording, I am astounded with how well-written the music and lyrics are. The production is very clean sounding, every instrument cuts through the mix well, while the vocals are easily audible. Guitar riffs are the strong point of the album. Cold, melancholic melodies destroy the listener's hope and optimism, inducing nightmares and thoughts of suicide. The drums seem to be there just to keep time, as most of the drum lines are just mid-paced blast beats that sound similar to Craft or Sargeist. The lyrics are mostly discernible through Z's tortured screams, and that is definitely a good thing. The pessimistic, misanthropic lyrics are some of the most impressive I've ever read. Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how dark and foreboding this album turned out to be.

The guitar-work is where this EP really shines. It consists of dark, eery riffing similar to that of Darkthrone or early Deathspell Omega. With that said, the guitars never become dull or repetitive thanks to the implementation of clean guitar parts on "Vitae Iactura" and even some thrash riffs on "Only Know". The vocals are rather unique, taking the form of discernible mid-pitched rasps rather than the typical high shriek. These vocals complement the well-written lyrics.

The few complaints I have with the EP are minor. Firstly, although the drums keep time perfectly, the beats aren't very imaginative and tend to repeat throughout the course of the album. However, this does not take away from the overall listening experience. Also, the guitars on "Violation" are slightly out of sync. Again, this is just a minor complaint, as this album is one of the best I've heard in a long time.

Overall, Xenotaph's "Vitae Iactura" is one of the best first recordings I've ever heard. The great sound quality, atmosphere, and musicianship show a band with limitless potential. I cannot wait to see what Xenotaph offers in the future.