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Undefined - "Of Xenoglossy And Saturn" (CD)

Undefined - "Of Xenoglossy And Saturn" CD cover image

"Of Xenoglossy And Saturn" track listing:

1. Routine Demythified The Wonder (10:35)
2. At The Edge Of The World (6:47)
3. A Plea For Time (4:14)
4. Andreia (5:52)
5. Alecto - Megaera - Tisiphone (9:17)
6. Metalogos (The Construction Of Destruction) (7:40)
7. Hemisphere 207 (2:14)
8. Wings Of Disembodiment (11:13)

Reviewed by on October 27, 2009

"...the music takes enough gut from old school death metal to avoid vapid progressive pretension and the riffs are well constructed and interesting."

After producing one EP, Spanish band Undefined released its first full length album last year entitled "Of Xenoglossy And Saturn". Spain isn't particularly known for a thriving scene of progressive death metal bands, so this is a pretty impressive release in that exact vein, ready to put to death any ideas that the Spaniards can’t play like their northern competitors.

I'll start with getting the negatives out of the way. First, the vocals don’t feel as competent as the musicianship. When down in the low Bloodbath-ish register they're perfectly passable, however they double as a black metal rasp which is quite weak. The rare clean vocals too, are sometimes great (like on “Wings of Disembodiment”) and sometimes not. I commend the vocalist’s range of styles which do fit quite well into the various sections - they just need some improvement. Vocalists should be the capturing quality about a band and it's tough to stand out with an average sound.

The other is the production, which is lacking in atmosphere. Granted, this is the Undefined’s first full length and the guitars sound fantastically deep and thick, with the vocals sitting nicely on top. The drums however have an unfortunate punchy, up front nature which cuts through all of the niceties of the rest of the production. If this band only had the atmosphere and vocals of a band like Katatonia they would definitely be going somewhere.

Ok, out with the frowny face. The music here feel strongly influenced by Opeth, from the song lengths to the guitar dirges and interlaced guitar. However, since there's not as much Maidenesque twiddling melody, Undefined feels a lot more in sync with a death metal act like The Chasm. The long songs are perfectly balanced, which is a true compliment from me because death metal songs over 6 minutes normally have me drooling a viscous puddle of boredom onto my CD player. So is copying Opeth's tried and true formula a crime worth punishing? Certainly not here, as the music takes enough gut from old school death metal to avoid vapid progressive pretension and the riffs are well constructed and interesting. There are elements of tremolo style melodic death metal, but it thankfully is seamlessly brought into the fold like in Opeth's contrapuntal overkill album "Morningrise," rather than cheaply patched into the metal quilt simply because they have the power to do so. The stand out tracks for me leaned towards the longer songs at the back end of the album like "Alecto - Megaera - Tisiphone," but the songwriting is consistent and dynamics well-placed.

Despite it's odd title, I would have easily given “Of Xenoglassy and Saturn” a higher mark if the cons hadn’t rubbed me the wrong way. The production and vocals could be a lot better in places, however the songwriting is thoroughly convincing. In the end, this is the debut from a new band and by that standard they deserved to be checked out by any fan of Opeth or The Chasm. I'm going to look out for Undefined in the future, make sure you do to.

Highs: Well written, dynamic prog-death songs with a nice guitar sound.

Lows: Out of place drum sound and touch and go vocals.

Bottom line: Despite the growing pains of a debut album, this is a band Opeth fans should check out.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)