The self titled demo from one man black metal project Xothist is a very enigmatic release I stumbled across not long ago. Coming from USA they play an extremely raw, harsh and uncompromising form of DSBM, taking cues from Xasthur and Leviathan but upping the level of extremity in every aspect, but with great songwriting and melodic sensibilities under the sea of fuzz.
The forty minute demo is split into two “sides”, A beginning inauspiciously with an off-kilter ambient intro, some unmelodious, almost clumsy clean guitar strumming with some barely audible noise in the background. It does create a somewhat eerie atmosphere, especially when the strumming fades away and the electronic noise ramps up at the three minute mark, a dense and fuzzy drone oscillating unsettlingly for a few minutes before the trebly scratch of the guitar softly makes it’s way in, building into the black metal masterpiece that’s to follow.
As previously mentioned the sound of the release is very harsh and raw. The lo-fi static-like production is perfect for this, the guitars coming across as a harsh trebly mess of distortion, the screamed vocals laced with effects to make them as undecipherable and raw as possible, sounding much similar to Xasthur’s Malefic, the drums simple and quiet, while the bass is rather buried but still gives a weighty rumble to the release. It takes a while to adjust to the scathing aural cacophony, but once you have there’s so much depth to it and it’s a damn-near perfect release. It’s layered very well in the manner of Darkspace, with psychedelic solos coming in and out almost at random, while managing to weave some great almost hypnotic melodies, a half buried trance that’s the antithesis of the huge wall of fuzz and loud screams. There’s constant tempo changes and different ideas throughout the constantly evolving and growing piece, but never deviating from the raw wall of noise textural approach. At the twelve minute mark there’s even some epic melodic riffing that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Emperor album while still sounding as oppressive as Leviathan’s murkiest moments. At the end of the track it fades out back into the ambient noise we heard at the start. Side B is much the same, starting with a more melodious and enjoyable piece of ambient synths, before the heavy hitting wall of noise starts up once again.There’s some moments on the second part where the bass is more audible, and the melodies quiet warm and beautiful, completely unexpected, but then the demo is one of constant curveballs.
This is one of the finest DSBM releases I’ve heard in a long while, and for any fans of Judas Iscariot, Xasthur and Leviathan, this will blow your minds. A monstrously heavy release, that doesn’t just rely on it’s huge sound, it’s a spring of good ideas and fantastic black metal music. The status of the project is unknown unfortunately, but there’s a further EP and full length to check out, and if they’re anywhere near as good as this they’ll be more than worth your time.
Xothist is available for streaming and as a name your price download on bandcamp: