Xeno – Reconstruction
Xeno is a Progressive Metal band formed in the Netherlands in 2008. Combining elements of Power, Death, and Extreme Metal to give a deeper, heavier tone to their compositions, they fuse metals into a unique alloy capable of entertaining and shocking the listener. The tones range from airy and atmospheric to brutal and heavy to powerful and haunted. Never is there a dull moment as this quintet shifts gears and genres at will. This is the heavier end of Progressive Metal, using growled vocals and chugging rhythms to accentuate the heaviness of the tones.
- Ruben Willemsen – Vocals/Bass
- Edwin Haan – Vocals/Guitars
- Jasper Bruggeman – Guitars
- Sean Lubbersen – Keyboards
- Lars van Mourik – Drums
November 16, 2022, via Art Gates Records.
There are only three tracks on this EP, one of three minutes, one of seven, and one of eleven. None of these compositions are “standard” or “cookie-cutter” by any stretch of the imagination. “Gift” is the shortest song and 3:37. It starts with muted guitars, then launches into the normal sonic levels with all the other instruments joining on the same phrase. The vocals are harsh, with what sounds like a few cleans layered under the growl and some chants/vocalizations in the background at times. There are sound effects, tempo changes, and some killer chugging riff/rhythm patterns.
“Pillars” is the 7:37 song. It is not as heavy or brutal for the intro. The guitars are heavy but still more melodic for the most part. The keyboards play a bit more prominent role in this track. While they were present in “Gift,” they had a bigger impact on this song. The tuning of the guitars is really excellent, and the bass/drum phrases behind the guitar/keyboard riffing are really awesome. The shifts in phrasing and tempo are so well done! The various interludes and bridges add a lot of texture to the song, but I think the best part is towards the end when the strings invade, combined with the haunting keyboard melodies. That section is phenomenal!
The longest track, “Columns,” clocks in at 11:18. It needs every second of that to pack everything in. Gregorian chants, string arrangements, horns, and crashing waves of music overwhelm the senses beautifully. The guitars are somewhat simplistic at the start, allowing the drums to shine through, especially the variable patterns used. A jazz section provides for a highlighted bass line early in the track, and this passage includes clean vocals woven together with harsh vocals. There are a lot of tempo and tone shifts throughout this behemoth of a song. This one is complex and gives you a sense of something being built, remodeled, added to, and finally coming together as a polished work of art.
While there is no such thing as a “Typical” Progressive Metal band, Xeno is not like the one most people outside the Prog Metal world would know, like Dream Theater or Rush. Xeno is heavier, brasher, and bolder than most others in this genre. Adding Symphonic Metal and Jazz to the mix is brave; the fact it works so well is astounding. They’ve pushed the envelope, expanding the sonic sphere to incorporate new and modern writing and playing styles. They are sure to influence musicians just beginning their journey into musicianship.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.60