Tech-death is well-covered. We all know it. The bar of quality is about as high as a musical bar can be set, and many have stepped up. There are two schools of thought you can apply to Prometheus by Xenobiotic: you can acknowledge its merits within the confines of the genre, or you can express skepticism at the fact that what’s been done here has, by large, been done before.
If your thoughts refer to the latter, then duly noted. If it’s the former then, well…strap in. Prometheus is an brain-pelting eruption of an album. And that deserves merit.
A tech-death record, when done properly, is like a ball being fired at lightning speed into a dense labyrinth of kick drums, snares, palm mutes, and power strums. The ball ricochets off each component at a precise nanosecond, with a swiftness you barely have time to register. But that precision is essential. If it ain’t there, you’ll know. Xenobiotic achieve this precision flawlessly, because Prometheus is tech-death done right. In terms of quality, you know from the outset that this band is aiming for, and subsequently achieving, masterclass standard.
A paced and gloomy thunderclap of a song opens this record in the swift three-minute form of “Prometheus I, Aether”, which merges without pause into its speedy second half, “Prometheus II, Genesis” (listeners can expect two more chapters in this thematically linked progression at the end of the record). But the fun really starts at third track “The Gift Of Fire”; after a thrashy beginning, we are treated to suitably meaty riffs. Anyone satisfied thus far will be happy to know that the acutely calculated aggression of this record does not relent from here on in.
The groovier “Alive” contains some effective and wonderfully grim guitar work, which widens our perception of Xenobiotic’s arsenal of noise and reassures listeners that the band’s technical skills are unquestionably a match for that of any of their peers. At this point, you may momentarily pause for breath. “Forethought” is a foreboding interlude with an apocalyptic undertone, which is just the thing to keep you in the right frame of mind before you are hauled into the bone-crunching brutality of “Nether II Hindsight”. It is worth noting at this point the quality of vocals. During this track, the voice takes on one of its somewhat rare changes in pitch, and it’s a kind of shame it doesn’t happen more often throughout the album. It demonstrates an ample range from singer TJ, and should probably warrant a little more air time. Coupled with a neat guitar solo, this factor also makes “Nether II Hindsight” one of the strongest tracks on the record.
There are several more neck-breaking trinkets in the second half. “Alone” has some beefy bass, and serves as a kind of build-up to the thunderous “He who Dwells in Grime”. A nice instrumental interlude, in the form of “The People’s Champion”, leads us into the explosive, headbanging finale of “Prometheus III, Nemesis” and “Prometheus IV, Immortal”. 38 minutes later, our ears ring. Silence has never seemed so boring.
As a modern tech-death creation, Prometheus oozes all the right stuff. It’s intense, dark, heavy as hell, and charged with a gallon of adrenaline, even in its slower moments. Guitars and bass propel like ravenous machines over booming pedals and damn mighty snares, while the vocals add a beastly layer to the band’s already deathly charisma. It’s clear that the construction of this record from this Australian five-piece was no mean feat, but an assiduous creative process, born from a sheer love of the genre.
Amidst the murk of their highly populated stomping ground, Xenobiotic might not qualify as a trailblazer, but it’s a smoking hot dose of heavy satisfaction in every other sense. For anyone looking for that kind of fix, Prometheus is here to serve your needs.
Notable Tracks: “The Gift of Fire”; “Nether II Hindsight”; “He who Dwells in Grime”
FFO: Vildhjarta, Humanity’s Last Breath, The Modern Age Slavery,