By Jonathan Smith
England-based Xerath have released their first full-length album on Candlelight Records, and its an interesting wedding of groove metal with orchestral bombast. Right from the get-go I invokes the kind of Hollywood film scores reserved for bloated big budget science-fiction and post-apocalyptic films, as if a metal band had been asked to score a film by Roland Emmerich or Steven Spielberg. The combination is a lot of fun even when it doesn’t necessarily work. The metal side of things sounds generic at times, and with the thunderous drums and down-tuned guitars, as well as Richard Thomson’s mostly-growled vocals, its role is to be the heavy base. Frequently the orchestral side of things soars above the metallic elements, with prominent soaring strings taking things to high heights before they all come crashing back down to Earth again. All of the songs are short and punchy, never really allowing any single element to be fully played out. By the album’s climax, the more progressive elements of the metal aspect start to come into their own and work better with the melodramatic symphonic moments. I is an intriguing and enjoyable debut, and just like the summer blockbusters it sounds like, has a great deal more style over substance. That in and of itself can be worth the price of admission.