I like to watch the TV show Yukon Gold. It amazes me that these guys will move tons upon tons of dirt just to find a few ounces of gold. Sure it pays off in the long run but you have to wonder if it is really worth it. It is the same thing doing music reviews. We sift through the tons of material hoping to find a few nuggets that make it worthwhile. Discovering a new band like XThirt13n is the reward that comes from all that searching. While they show their heritage of members who have been involved with bands such as Circle II Circle and Doctor Butcher, they manage to put a unique stamp on this heavy melodic approach.
Something that really made me stand up and take notice of the band is their cerebral, almost concept like approach to the disc. It is not a story in the true sense of the word but is more of a sci-fi ideal put to music. They touch on themes such as ancient aliens, the growth of technology, the suppression of the human spirit and many other related themes. While I may not agree with some of their views and think that they might belong in a Jesse Ventura conspiracy TV show segment, it does not take away from the entertainment value of the album in any way. Especially when you are overwhelmed by the musical and vocal talents of XThirt13n.
They take their name from an experimental vertical takeoff jet which was pretty bad assed for its time. Taken in that context it is a most fitting name and description of the band. These guys soar pretty high with this debut effort and the metal world is about to have a new force unleashed upon it.
The first song I heard from the band also happens to be the first song penned by them. No Turning Back hit me with a blast of old school heavy metal and vocals from Tim Aymar that fall somewhere between Jon Oliva and Rob Halford. There is metal magic in his voice and he elevates this album to staggering heights.
I am a sci-fi nerd. So when a disc like this one comes along I eat it up. Mind control, ancient aliens, UFO’s and secret government plots are all great vehicles to entertain. O.K. maybe there is a bit of truth here and there but who really knows for sure? XThirt13n uses such themes to make you open your mind up while having your face melted by the searing metal they blast at you. I love an album that makes you think as much as it makes you feel and this one is a mental workout!
Now for the weak points of the album…well, did you get them? That’s right I cannot find any. This is one of those few discs that you want to listen over and over. It is the kind of album where you want to know all the lyrics and envision the storyline of each song in your head. A Taste Of Light is a prime example. What a fantastic tune both musically and lyrically, not to mention some outstanding harmonies and dueling vocals. Never To Return is storytelling at its best and might be my favorite musical moment on the disc. The band takes you on a magical journey that highlights the creativity of these metal monsters.
They also change gears midstream and give you an almost industrial feeling version of The Rolling Stones classic which they simply call Sympathy. It totally fits with the theme of the disc and captures an energy that permeates this album from start to finish.
The diversity really shines through with what starts out like an old Irish drinking song but quickly turns into a chaotic bit of newer metal pandemonium on the song Wasted In Wonderland. After taking you on a roller coaster ride this is the ending you just might expect. Instead of fading into the sunset they leave you face down and totally spent.
So there you have it, a new album from a new band that consists of heavy metal veterans. They came together to create something special and have done just that. Without a doubt this is one of the hidden gems for the year 2014 and will easily be on my best of for this year. Give this one a listen, you will not be disappointed.
Melodic metal mayhem that is a real treat for the ears and the mind.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]