My own expectations for a second full-length from science fiction shred-thrashing black/death metal band Xoth (not to be confused with their neighbors in Hoth) was almost entirely informed by their live sound as I’d paid no certain attention to their debut full-length ‘Invasion of the Tentacube’ (2016) or the EP they’d released back in 2018. I had, however, seen the Seattle, Washington transplants live at Northwest Terror Fest this year where I began to understand the constant belabored comparisons to technical thrash, black metal, and progressive death metal bands all in the same breath. In fact their broadly ranged style provides a remarkably easy path of induction towards Xoth, they’re likely to be instantly appealing to a wide range of listeners because their sound is eclectic enough to shift between several sub-genre signifiers within the same song. Without hashing out the particulars in full just yet, ‘Interdimensional Invocations’ is a point of greater definition for Xoth that cements them as a notable independent and progressive extreme metal band.
But hey, if you don’t like shred metal… heads up! ‘Interdimensional Invocations’ is shred metal as fuck. Like, start-to-finish shred in the modern technical/melodic death metal sense where they’ll forgo darker rhythmic tones for the sake of bright and forward-set shred guitar tones. Leads aren’t all wank, though, instead consider a post-‘Symbolic’ death metal album like Martyr‘s ‘Hopeless Hopes’ with a dose of the earlier blackened thrashing days of Vektor. So, it sounds like Revocation? Not exactly, where Xoth differentiate from Martyr‘s dependence on the Schuldiner-esque ‘winging it’ prog-metal riff is by flitting between high speed black/thrash riffs that generally feel at home alongside the tech-melodeath hybridization of the rhythm guitar tracks. This all comes together with some semblance of melodic black metal at times (or, ‘Absu’, 2009?) if you’ll excuse the warbling prog-attuned leads. This all sounds incredibly intense on paper but Xoth are often ultra laid back in their on this album presentation. The first hits of “Back to the Jungle” begin to feel like a ramp up in dynamic but there is a break into a cinematic prog-shred kick around two minutes in that took me to an unwanted mental space that isn’t otherworldly, just Dream Theater-y.
Holy damn, though, when “Mountain Machines” glides its majestic feathered ass out of a particularly inspirational Japanese video game and wails through four power-metallic minutes of fiery blackened fuckin’ on-a-damn-quest fantasy metal. If you’re a pilot fighter and working on a Spotify playlist to fit the mood grab that song at the very least. The tracklist hits a few bumps along the way but the overall experience is at a similar quality level (as in technique, composition) of present day Exmortus, Inferi, or Allegaeon while outclassing some of those peers in terms of carrying a melodic thread through an entire song (“Unseen Abductor”), and surely writing heavier riffs. If ‘Interdimensional Invocations’ wasn’t full of non-traditional and unexpected moments I don’t think I could sit through an album that so mercilessly flings flashy guitar techniques around; Xoth‘s incorporation of intermittent second wave black metal influences along the way helps quite a bit by creating an anxious and cold atmosphere in contrast to the inquisitive and upswinging lead guitar phrasing (“Plague Revival 20XX”). Oh man, then “Melted Face of the Soul” hits. Shit gets a bit jaunty in middle but hey these prog-power metal feeling songs have a pretty uniquely triumphant vibe that is almost more interesting than their more black metal edged pieces.
My only complaint in revisiting this tracklist repeatedly was that it already feels like Xoth are getting ‘too good’, as in their sound and performances are so slick that forgetting (or not intending) to put some stink on their riffs and solos.– It reads way buttoned up compared to the previous album, for better or worse. Otherwise I’d say I’m more than impressed by this dynamic and texturally satisfying many-headed-beast of a record from Xoth. It is rare to find an independent band that can crank out two records of this quality without a label. ‘Interdimensional Invocations’ comes highly recommended. For preview purposes I’d suggest starting with “Unseen Abductor”, “Melted Face of the Soul” and don’t skip out on “Mountain Machines.”
Siphoning power to the throne. 4.0/5.0
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