The wicked prophet is loose with his donkey again, facing the sword-wielding angel! Or something of that nature. And in Switzerland to boot.
If an EP serves – as the lore goes – to show the skills of a band in their early days, then the Swiss band Xaon hit dead center with their upcoming, self-released album Face of Balaam. Expecting some watery metal concoction, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this tsunami rolling over me. And by Loki, these guys serve an intense and aggressive brand of their favorite metal.
And talking about early days.
Xaon formed in 2012 already, but apparently had some issues finding the right sound and direction for a while. Now, adding Rob Carson on vocals permanently to the founding crew – Flo and Vinc – this ship of theirs finally sails into more steely waters. Interestingly, they employed Björn ‘Speed’ Strid as a guest vocalist in Discrowned.
Mixing Thrash with Hardcore and some Melodic Death Metal and hitting all the power switches to full tilt at once, Xaon create this unique sound that compares badly with whatever is out there. To add to the fray, clear voice vocals constantly compete with screams and growls.
And all of this underlines with acoustic, almost symphonic passages. Then again you’ll find a friggin’ metal madness letting loose at any unexpected corner of their tune. Then again they play metal with the synthesizer and keyboards, the way Amaranthe should have done, but miserably failed.
Face of Balaam is full of hooks, riffs, stellar solos, and unexpected style changes at every corner of this windy road to their very own Valhalla. A real pleasure to listen to, raising hopes for a full-length album with more of all of the above hopefully to come soon.
And I warmly suggest you keep a spot for this one in your music collection. This is good stuff.
Ed’s note: The new album The Drift was finally released in 2017. They delivered on their promise.