By Dr. Abner Mality
This enigmatic duo have come up with something a bit different here...a kind of cosmic black metal with heavy classical music overtones and odd vocals. One thing's for sure...you better like a lot of treble in your metal if you like XENOGLYPH. Low tones and bass are almost totally absent from "Spiritfraud".
Black metal is the base of the band, but not in any conventional sense. This is very twisting and baroque, with high trebly tones creating a spacy and "celestial sound". Wintry synths accentuate the cosmic feel, but never overtake the guitars. Songs are long and experimental, but not avant-garde enough to alienate the listener. One of the main differences in XENOGLYPH's approach are the vocals, which can range from almost Gregorian tones to a robotic chant to watery sounding clean vocals and a somewhat more "normal" black metal rasp. It really keeps you on your toes, but it also helps to keep things interesting. One thing that didn't impress me were the thin, typewriter-style drums.
There is a fascination in seeing where things go here. "Mainframe Equilibrium" sets the tone but the title track goes even further into ornate riffing. "Cyphon" is a bit slower and more stately while "Iconocide" is a real epic that wanders from symphonic to more stripped down tones. Throughout it all, the sci-fi feeling prevails.
It's not the heaviest or most neck wrecking piece of work, but that's actually what adds some spice and intrigue. If you're tired of typical sounding death and black metal, this is a good change of pace.