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Xael: The Last Arbiter (2018)

Written by: Kev Rowland

I’ve just been over to the label site, followed some links, and now realise that this album is available for “name your price” from Bandcamp, https://xaeloffical.bandcamp.com. That’s probably a good way of hearing it first, as although it is being portrayed for fans of Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Wardruna, Behemoth, Black Crown Initiate, Dimmu Borgir and Orphanland, I somehow don’t think I’ll go quite that far. Yes, it is black metal, with brutal blast beats (interestingly the drums in the studio are provided by Nassaru (lead vocals, guitar) but they have a different drummer playing live.

It is when the band are at their most symphonic that they really gel, but the biggest issue for me with this album is down to the arrangements. There is the feeling at times that someone said “it would be great to have piano here” and they put it in, but then give too much credence to that in the mix, and it jars. For me it is a somewhat disjointed album in that there are lots of ideas being put into the mix, and they don’t always work. It would be interesting to see what these guys are like in concert, as with three guitarists I would expect them to be even heavier than they are here, and for many of the arrangement issues to be resolved. Of all the bands mentioned above, the one they get closest to is Fleshgod Apocalypse, and it is as these times that they shine. This is definitely one to hear before purchase.

Rating: 6/10

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Tracklist:
1. The Last Arbiter
2. SRAI – “The Demon of Erring”
3. The Wayfarer of Tymeer
4. Watchers of Xan
5. Apathy of the Immortal
6. In the Hollows of Pathos
7. I Am Pestilence
8. Secrets of the Third Tribe
9. Harvesting the Elders Genome

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Links:
https://www.facebook.com/xael.metal/
https://www.testyourmetalofficial.com/

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