Despite only having released three records since 2009, Xerath has showcased a very interesting progression as a band. Where I was a very groove-centric record that bordered more on djent than it did an orchestral work, II read more like a movie soundtrack with the band's brand of swaggering metal laid over the top of it. Both sounds are integral to the band's sound, but both albums felt like they were struggling to find the unity between the two. It's not that they weren't well-written, it just felt like the two entities were dissonate in design. So naturally, like a cook who has hit their stride in terms of blending ingredients perfectly as not to override another flavor, Xerath's III is the perfect amount of cinematic symphonic work and heandbang-until-your-neck-breaks heaviness.
At the basest level, III takes the orchestral concepts of Septicflesh, the riffing madness of old school death metal and the vocal stylings of Devin Towsend and throws them into a blender until the finished product is equal parts of each. You've got a song like "I Hold Dominion" opens up with sweeping, triumphant strings and chanting choruses and then spirals down into a bombastic rhythm section holding down shrieking guitar lines, that pairs in contrast with both parts of the closer "Veil," a song that utilizes a lot of orchestral-only workings. Then there are songs like "Autonomous," which come at your full force with any kind of instrumentation that has the capability of being ferocious all balled up into one heavy boxing glove that's locked on to your face as a target… and won't stop. Ever.
Xerath is perfectly conscious of when enough is enough at any given section and knows what instrumentation to utilize or omit, which says a lot about the group's writing skills. III could have been packed to the brim with 100-plus instruments at any given point to live up to the "orchestral metal" tag they get, but why bother? You don't order everything on the menu at a restaurant when you go just because you can.
III will easily be Xerath's breakout record, propelling them to the level of recognition they deserve. The record takes all the elements Xerath fans have come to know and love over the past five years and not only amplified them, but added all new dimensions. The record employs a wide array of clean singing this time around, a much more audible bass with a whole slew of awesome lines and a much deeper, more focused writing palette than the first two records. Brutality isn't the name of the game here, nor is beauty. Instead, III is an adventure through 14 tracks that will uplift, crush and essentially awe the listener into loving the record just as much as it deserves to be.