The martial industrial genre is a niche which doesn’t get enough recognition. While (neo)folk, medieval and other genres thrive I don’t read or hear much new material within this genre at the moment. Not that acts such as Triarii, Arditi and H.E.R.R. aren’t popular. I meant that releases are sparse and I presume that the aesthetics and general atmosphere, both visual as well as musical, make it so that the genre itself remains a music style for connoisseurs. Perhaps Xiphos will manage to change that. Why? Simply put: with blending the martial industrial genre with neoclassic elements, a lot of melody and atmosphere the sound that Xiphos has created contains enough depth yet remains very accessible to the broader audience. And maybe, just maybe, that will do the trick.
If it would, it would be deservedly so because “The Rise and Fall Of Athens” is exalting and simply exquisite to listen to. This trio consisting of composer Matteo Brusa (Medhelan), Miklos Hoffer (H.E.R.R./Donderdag) and Troy Southgate (H.E.R.R./Seelenlicht) manage to enthrall me with sheer quality music.
Of course, you hear influences of H.E.R.R. but the influence of Brusa is surely and profoundly there. The sound, atmosphere and landscapes this man creates on this debut album are extraordinary. Aided with the beautiful voice of the other two gents, it sees to it that this journey is an adventurous exploration in the historic characters hailing from the fallen empire of Greece.
The “Intro” track sees to it that the right ambiance is set before “Theseus” sets in. A track driven by great songwriting and the compelling voice of Southgate. On “Solon”, Hoffer’s voice shines whether it be spoken word or clean singing. The dreadful interlude of “Themistocles” slowly develops in a nine minute epos where the story of the protagonist in this tale – Themistocles – is told in melancholic manner.
Having two singers on this album really works well. It makes sure you are on the edge of your seat and it never gets dull. Just like the olden days where two wise men are telling their tales by the fire but now concocted with great compositions resulting in a superb album. But besides the vocals we mustn’t forget Brusa. He is a master in telling a tale via its compositions. Just listen to the powerful “Aristides,” with the beautiful voice of Hoffer, “Cimon” where melodies and a light martial touch clash in a powerful track. The voice of the refrain simply gives me goosebumps. And, luckily, the fun doesn’t end here! “Pericles” is another strong composition with excellent lyrics and vocals. “Nicias” as well as “Alcibiades” also remind me somewhat of H.E.R.R. (which isn’t a bad thing at all, on contrary it brings me back to the heydays of the genre). “Lysander” is a ten minute epoch, which makes sure that you don’t forget this album before everything fades away with the spoken word “Outro.”
This album is self-released, and that’s a bold choice. I simply cannot understand that there isn’t a label having the balls to release this fine piece of art. The production is spot on, every song is golden and when you have an open mind everyone should enjoy this album (that includes you, metalheads). So please give this album a chance, it deserves it! It will take some effort delving into the music because this album is quite long and therefore will take some time to digest. But when devoured a few times the splendor will reveal itself like Apollo makes sure that the night will end. Just read the beautiful lyrics of the songs and you will live in the past for a short while. This album arrived too late to be in my 2022 year list. And that’s a pity because “The Rise and Fall Of Athens” would have ended up as number one. Every minute of listening to this seventy minute during epos is a pure form of melancholic pleasure. Hail Xiphos!
Release date: 9 December 2022
Written by: Erik