Xentrix – Shattered Existence Review

Of all the Metal subgenres, Thrash has always been my favourite. If its fast, hard and ‘80s, then chances are I’m going to look on it favourably. That being said, the first time I heard this album, I didn’t like it.

It seemed not just a bit derivative, but rather massively derivative. It sounded initially to me that whole sections were lifted right out of Master Of Puppets and Ride The Lightning. I mean either those, or The Legacy by Testament. Looking around at reviews online to make sure I wasn’t just being crazy, I’ve picked up that its not just me, this is something a lot of people feel. Basically; for a British album, it sounds an awful lot like it was made in the San Francisco scene.

Then it hit me. “Isn’t that a good thing? You love those albums!”

This 1989 debut from Preston’s Xentrix may not be totally original, but it does deliver another 40 minutes of what I love: Tight meaty riffs, dry punchy drums and intermittent breaks of harmony and melody that elevates it beyond just a sonic battering, into something a bit more ambitious. You can really hear a lot of talent on the instruments too, these guys can play. They can write too, they really know how to balance all the elements and are masters of nailing the formula.

The lyrics are also a lot better than a lot of their peers too. There’s still the usual topics like televangelism, power, drugs and conflict; but handled in more of a mature & intelligent way than many other bands. Speaking of better than peers, the production job has no business being this good for a British Thrash band’s debut. This album sounds brilliant, exactly what you want from this sort of music. Its really a shame the band didn’t make it bigger.

The only two minor flaws here are firstly that the vocals aren’t very distinctive, don’t help the band stand out from the pack, and secondly that apart from a few below-mentioned highlights, the songs themselves aren’t very memorable. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not boring, its all great when you’re listening to it, but you probably couldn’t whistle it two days later. They’re perfect in every way except that final indefinable way that makes the likes of Exodus or Testament more memorable than someone like Gammacide or Attomica.

The band more than make up for it though; with aforementioned instrumental skill, clever lyrics, superb formula and the perfect production. Although this probably won’t break into many Top-10 lists, it certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a Top 50 or Top 100 list. Highlights include ‘Balance Of Power,’ ‘Dark Enemy’ and ‘Heaven Cent.’ Check it out if you like Thrash and don’t mind a bit of very on-the-sleeve homage to their influences.

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