Monday, March 5, 2012

Xenomorph - Empyreal Regimes

Xenomorph
Empyreal Regimes
Dark Descent Records

Following on from the success of their re-release of Death Strike’s ‘Fuckin’ Death’, Timeghoul’s ‘1992-1994 Complete Discography’ and Uncanny’s ‘MCMXCI – MCMXCIV’ from last year, Dark Descent Records have once again ventured into the past to find a long lost obscurity, dust it off and reintroduce it to a whole new audience by giving it the deluxe reissue treatment. This time around its Nebraska (U.S.) based death metal outfit Xenomorph, and their long forgotten album ‘Empyreal Regimes’.
Xenomorph was founded back in 1990, and eventually split in 1996 following the death of vocalist/guitarist Joe ‘Pappshammer’ Papek. But while the band’s time together was short-lived, they did manage to release a three track demo in 1993 (‘Subspecies’) and one full-length release in the form of ‘Empyreal Regimes’ in 1995 (Through their own Fleshkoptor Musikkk label). With only an hour’s worth of musical output to their name, it makes sense that with the overdue re-release of ‘Empyreal Regimes’, Dark Descent Records have compiled both the album and the demo on the one album, making this an essential package for anyone who has long sought the complete Xenomorph catalogue, or for those who are looking for something a little more on the obscure side of early U.S. death metal.
In terms of musical direction, Xenomorph were primarily known as a death metal band, but while the tag is justified, the band also managed to incorporate elements of thrash metal into their sound, as well as showcasing a technical edge within their riff structures.
The trio (Comprising of Papek, ex-Angelcorpse/Acheron/Immolation bassist Bill ‘Beguiling Tempter’ Taylor and ex-Diabolic Possession drummer Chris ‘Zoanthros Vanir’ Haley) get the album off to a powerful start with ‘The Keep’, which initially utilises the use of samples to create a foreboding atmosphere, before the band blast their way through with some grinding riffs, some innovative drum work and Papek’s impressive rasp-like vocal work (Which in some ways brings to mind a cross between Death’s Chuck Schindler and David Vincent of Morbid Angel).
‘Wehrmacht’ is a firm favourite with Haley’s incredible drumming expertly timed to stand out against the tight knit riffing of Papek, while ‘Plight Of The Cimmerian’ really demonstrates the diversity within the band’s song writing with its menacing mid-paced tempos. Further highlights come in the form of the constant twists, turns and shifts in speed within the two closing tracks ‘Valley Of The Kings’ and ‘Biomechanics’.
As mentioned earlier, this re-release also includes the three tracks from the band’s original demo ‘Subspecies’ (Namely ‘Cyberchrist’, ‘Phosphoric Coaqulum’ and ‘Kaziglu-Bey’). Whilst their inclusion doesn’t really enhance the album as a whole given the vastly inferior production value (They essentially sound like they were recorded in a garage), their inclusion does show how much the band progressed in the two years between releases.
Xenomorph never really achieved much in their short time together, and with the passing away of Papek, their demise was inevitable. But with Dark Descent Records’ re-release of ‘Empyreal Regimes’, here’s hoping that Xenomorph finally gets some long overdue appreciation for what they did manage to achieve in their time.

For more information on Xenomorph, check out - http://www.myspace.com/xenomorphregime

© Justin Donnelly