XENOMORPH - Empyreal Regimes CD reissue
Genre: Death Metal
There are two bands in the world of extreme metal who went by the name XENOMORPH. One was a Dutch progressive death metal act who are still around lurking somewhere and then there was this band from the US who hailed from Omaha, Nebraska. This XENOMORPH were a three piece act from the 1990's featuring Beguiling Tempter on bass (aka: Bill Taylor now guitarist in IMMOLATION since 2002), Zoanthros Vanir on drums (aka: Chris Haley) and Pappshammer on guitar and sick vocals (aka: Joe Papek). The band really had no claim to fame in their heyday other than being just another Midwest death metal act applying their craft to an over saturated scene (over saturated by the burgeoning melodic death metal sounds of Sweden to be accurate). By the time the band released it's debut full length Empyreal Regimes on Fleshkoptor Musikkk in 1995 the music media taste makers were already calling this band's style of death metal old hat as well as past it's time. So like most acts of their day who at least got their creative opus out to the masses they folded. You see where their bassist went. The other band member's whereabouts are unknown although I'm sure Dark Descent knows where to send the royalty checks.
So what we have here is a complete reissue of their full length plus the band's three song 1993 Subspecies demo as a bonus. Since we are in an OSDM (Old School Death Metal) revival than it makes sense to see all of these reissues popping up like old forgotten friends on Facebook. Most of the reissues I've sampled this year have been mandatory to decent and then to the why bother at all category. Since this is the work of Dark Descent Records you can be sure it falls into the mandatory category simply because they know their shit better than most when it comes to shaking the dirt off of unearthed finds from the past. Case in point their DEATH STRIKE Fuckin Death CD reissue from this year. So here we have another great find from the past. XENOMORPH were not just a typical death metal act from their era. By the mid-nineties you had bands moving to a more tech savvy direction. Although by today's standards of Tech Death this band would be considered neanderthals. That's why I like it and their demo material is pure low fi as far as production standards go. You know like sounding as if it was recorded in a garage. Be that as it may XENOMORPH's sound on the full length reflects little as far as a connection to their day's more widely known contemporaries. They were more of a technically twisted Death Thrash with blackened rasping vocals. No cookie monsters or guttural beasts on here and some simplistic dirty riffs. It's when the band goes off the template and switches to off kilter tempos that things get interesting.
While the opener "The Keep" plays things straight to the bone. It's on the second track "Wehrmacht" where things get interesting. Give credit to the drumming by Zoanthros Vanir (aka: Chris Haley) who takes the band's song structure to various breakout places. Imagine what a cat does when placed inside a paper bag if you need to picture it. "Plight of the Cimmerian" delivers some INCANTATION like death doom at the start but then morphs into a jazz influenced exercise before kicking into a thrashed out blitz. From here on out the release grows with more ambitious technicality as if a monstrous beast was getting an education in diabolical nastiness. "Subspecies" comes across like a free form jam session with a drum recital/tutorial. Other cuts further in like "Inducted Throughout Time", "Valley of the Kings" and "Biomechanics" seem to drag you into a pit of never ending twists and turns leaving you completely disoriented. This a band who wasn't into overwhelming you with brutality and speed but made you kick back and suffer the ride. In the end it literally stands up to the moniker of cult like status for anyone interested in resurrected deathly sounds.