XENOS - The Dawn Of Ares

Xenos - The Dawn Of Ares

9 songs
44:53 minutes
***** ***
Iron Shield


2020 was a frustrating year of bands, especially new ones that just released their debut album in January, just before the onset of the pandemic. Xenos from the Italian island Sicily found themselves in the situation of having their first album Filthgrinder just out and not being able to tour. So they just kept practicing, and one and a half year later they are back with their second longplayer The Dawn Of Ares, and frankly speaking: the added time of practice really shows. The debut sounded still a little shaky, but practice and a change of record label gives us a much tighter band, although one still can’t claim that Xenos have an original sound. On their debut album, they covered Peace Sells by Megadeth, then later in 2020 they released a single with a cover version of Slayer’s Raining Blood, and that’s exactly where the three-piece is situated: combining the brash heaviness of Slayer circa around South Of Heaven with the thrashy progressiveness of Megadeth’s Rust In Peace. So there’s this late eighties / early nineties old school thrash sound, clad in a modern production that is punching you straight in the face.

From a stylistic vantage point, Xenos clearly show their influences. But we should not forget that they are also quite skilled songwriters. The forty-five minutes of music display a high level of talent, and unlike lesser bands, the quality doesn’t drop in the second half of the album. Giuseppe Taormina is an incredible guitarist whose heavy thrash riffs and progressive soloing are really what makes the album stand out. The rhythm section gives him the foundation on which he can build his attics. Ignazio Nicastro’s vocals are astonishing in the way he sounds one moment like Tom Araya, and the next like Dave Mustaine. In a genre where possibly everything has been tried before, we shouldn’t be too harsh on Xenos and concentrate not only on their actually very nice songs, but also on the fact that they really improved a lot since their debut. I hope for the band that they soon can play live shows, even if that means that a next album might take more time. Old school thrash metal fans should look out for this strong retro power bomb.

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