It's Thursday and I haven't reviewed anything this week yet from an old band who crawled out of the woodwork with their first release in forever. I guess that means that it's time for the new Xentrix album, which they're releasing no fewer than twenty-three years after its poorly received predecessor, 1996's Scourge. I'm a fan of British thrash and enjoyed their Shattered Existence debut, so I can happily say welcome back, folks!
Well, it's mostly a welcome back. This new Xentrix, who split up in 1997 and again in 2006, are led by guitarist Stan Howard and drummer Dennis Gasser, a pair of founder members. However, the other two aren't here, though they did rejoin when the band reformed in 2013, only to leave again. Paul MacKenzie (bass) and Chris Astley (vocals/guitars) are replaced respectively by Chris Shires and Jay Walsh.
With that said, this sounds good, but it's structured oddly. From the very beginning, it's old school technical thrash with all the benefits of modern production. The band are clearly capable but there's something lacking in a few of the early songs. A couple in and I realised that they're a little too clinical, great technically but not so great on attitude. And it's the songs rather than Andy Sneap's excellent as always production.
Relistening, there are moments of attitude in there, especially during the title track which opens up the album, but the songs are unable to maintain it throughout. As The Truth Lies Buried shifts from clinical to urgent four tracks in, though, the album starts to feel ready and, sure enough, it kicks into a high gear with Let the World Burn, a blister of a song featuring plenty of in your face attitude. It's very reminiscent of Testament and that's a sound that works well for the band and for Jay Walsh's voice too, which also hints at Lemmy at a couple of points.
If it never gets better than Let the World Burn, the album generally keeps that urgency through its second half, as if it had lit up a lightbulb above the collective heads of the band. The Red Mist Descends follows suit, albeit a little more restrained at points, and so does World of Mouth. A couple more songs in and we start to wonder why we ever wanted more attitude. It's here in wild abundance!
They leave the other stormer until the end, so that Evil by Design can wrap up the album with emphasis, leaving us wanting more so that we loop right back to the beginning and play the whole thing again. Rinse and repeat. It's a good approach.
If the energetic songs make the album, some intricate intros deepen it. The best surely begins and ends The One You Fear, a neat interplay between two guitars, but there's atmosphere in the intro to The Truth Lies Buried too. The other variance I really enjoyed here was the mosh part in the middle of Evil by Design; it keeps the attitude of the rest of the song but slows it down considerably and ought to have the pit really moving. In between, the guitarwork is great throughout, with plenty of solid riffs and neat solos.
All in all, this isn't the best Xentrix album that it could be, but it's a strong album with a couple of really impressive tracks and a bunch of other good ones. Given how poorly fans took to their previous change of direction with Kin and Scourge, they should return in droves for Bury the Pain, which is old school and blistering. Like I said, welcome back, folks!