XORSIST sends infernal hails from the land of Gothen…wait, no, Stockholm. These newcomers make no secret that the band is a blatant attempt to conjure the early HM-2, buzzsaw riffing and low-toned rumble for which their town is known, but can they? After 2022’s debut showing – which was alright, but when you’re talking Stockholm, “alright” just doesn’t cut it – founder and vocalist/guitarist Gustav Ryderfelt found himself some other folks to play with, hung onto the name, and here we have a second album already, At The Somber Steps To Serenity, on Prosthetic Records.
Anyone who’s read my scratchings for any length of time will know of my abhorrence for “intro” tracks, especially when it comes to death metal. At 2:26, though, ‘A Life In Vain’ unexpectedly shines, solo instrumental piano elevating from “intro” to actual song. ‘Carve It Out’ is much more influenced by the early thrashed-out death of DISMEMBER and NIHILIST than the subterranean ooze of GRAVE or Clandestine-era ENTOMBED and succeeds on that front. That style is found over the album, but it’s just not punching my gut through my back the way Stockholm death metal should and must in the case of ‘Initiation’.
The trio recovers nicely, though, ‘Banished To Obscurity’ spending its first minute or so in fluid guitar patterns, stretched-out bass notes and minimal drums with whispered tones before the lid is ripped off with no warning. Drums are almost swinging in a groovy style, but the riffs are straight outta Sunlight (Studios), which makes sense, as Ol’ You Know Who Himself was on co-production and mixing duties. There’s a good bit of John Tardy in Ryderfelt’s delivery, and pre-The End Complete OBITUARY isn’t too far off the mark as a sonic reference, to be sure.
Closing the gates to the graveyard, the title track is nothing if not ambitious as fuck, XORSIST attempting an 8+ minute finale, and you know what? It holds one’s attention. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be so engaging over its entire length. I mean, it’s got to stumble somewhere, right? Surprisingly, no.
There’s something to be said for passion. Either you have it or you don’t. At The Somber Steps To Serenity is bathed in the blood of its ancestors, there is no doubt. It’s not perfect at all but, considering the threesome is in their late teens/early 20s, what’s coming might be fuckin’ insane. Remember a little band of youngsters called AMORPHIS?
Review By: Lord Randall
At The Somber Steps To Serenity