Xerath tease III and showcase new guitarist Conor McGouran in one fell swoop
Combining metal and orchestral music can be a slightly perilous business. Done right, it can be dramatic, bombastic and other words ending in -ic. Done badly, it can be cheesier than a pint of milk left on a fairground ride for six months.
Xerath‘s second album II, released back in 2011, proved that they were firmly in the first camp. Sounding a little like a parallel universe in which The Ocean went in a heavier direction after Precambrian, they take lip-curlingly weighty riffs that are equal parts tech and groove, then add rich layers of orchestral texture that are reminiscent of the John Williams/Hans Zimmer school of movie soundtrack. Its a potent combo, so if you’ve not heard it before check this out:
That’s pretty special. However, just before the 2013 festival season got underway, guitarist Owain Williams announced he would be amicably parting ways with the group. Some farewell shows followed, including a particularly sweaty second stage headline slot at last year’s Tech Fest. With the shows completed and a new guitarist recruited, the band retreated to (I presume) their hollowed-out volcano to write some new music.
Xerath returned to the stage in April for the Bristol leg of the Tech Fest all-dayer series, and have now released more details of the upcoming album, as well as a sneak peek at what it is going to sound like – and it is jolly exciting.
First and foremost, we know know that their new guitarist is Conor McGouran, the album will be released on in September across various territories and, continuing the numerical theme, will be called III.
Most of this information is contained in a video which, perhaps appropriately, runs like a movie trailer. The visuals are very slick, stylish and professional, and they are accompanied by a three minute excerpt of new music that is, not too put too fine a point on it, glorious.
In a particularly smart move, Xerath have chosen a section which contains a solo from Conor to showcase his patently considerable abilities. He had some big shoes to fill, but it looks like they are a comfortable fit. The overall sound is, if anything, even richer and more lustrous than anything we have heard from them to date. Live orchestration does battle with a choir in a manner which is truly - to reclaim a thoroughly over-user word – epic in scope.
It’s obviously dangerous to get too carried away on the basis of such a thin sliver of the new material, but our attention is piqued and our appetite is thoroughly whetted. On this evidence, III could be something really very special indeed.
Have a look and a listen, then mark the Candlelight Records release date of 15th-17th September in your diary.