"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Xeper - "Discourses on Anything So Absolute" (CD)

Xeper - "Discourses on Anything So Absolute" CD cover image

"Discourses on Anything So Absolute" track listing:

1. Winter's Best (6:36)
2. Jesus was a Capricorn (2:29)
3. New Aged Invertebrate (4:32)
4. The Sun Dies Out (5:12)
5. Alone, Daggers for Eyes at the Sky (9:24)
6. So That Leviathan May Strike Again (4:53)
7. Polymorphic Monochromatic Hologram (7:07)
8. Ja Nyt Hänen Poikansa Kertoo Tarinansa (5:07)

Reviewed by on June 25, 2010

"Xeper is one of those bands that feels metal should be ugly and repulsive to the listener, and regrettably they succeed in their goal more often than they fail."

There are a huge range of philosophies and musical styles behind the beast that is extreme underground metal, which means there will always be something for every taste. It also means there will be those unfortunate times when otherwise compelling music is marred by an artistic vision that is extremely hard to get into. Xeper (pronounced “Keffer”) is one of those bands that feels metal should be ugly and repulsive to the listener, and regrettably they succeed in their goal more often than they fail.

No matter how great the sludgy guitar work gets, or how heavy the drum parts become, the music is almost always actively destroyed by the two types of vocals found throughout the disc. It’s hard to tell if Xeper made the vocals terrible on purpose to be rebellious and antagonistic, or if the vocalist is just plain bad at growling. Neither option makes the vocal delivery any easier to listen to. The “doom” oriented vocals consist of a deep croak that drones on incessantly, with an annoying whiny trail at the end of every single syllable uttered. It aggressively and enthusiastically makes the music hard to enjoy in any capacity.

Xeper doesn’t stop there, though. A second vocal style is thrown into the mix with reckless abandon, as just one ear grating style wasn’t enough. The high pitched screams found on nearly every song put raw Norwegian black metal to shame with their sheer throat shredding and ear gouging evil. Normally a description like that would get a metal fan’s blood pumping, but unfortunately this time around the screams aren’t “kvlt,” but rather “godawful.” A good argument could be made that these shrieks are exactly what it would sound like if somehow there were an unholy combination of a cat loudly dying in an alley and nails being dragged across an endless chalk board. It’s impossible to tell if there are actually words being screamed through this style, but it’s irrelevant, as the delivery ruins any desire to know what those words might be.

Buried beneath the layers of purposefully hostile vocals are hidden a variety of interesting musical pieces. Opening track “Winter’s Best” has a flawlessly executed effect where all the instruments gradually slow to a crawl while repeating the same part over and over. “Alone, Daggers For Eyes at the Sky” hits tones of rock and melodic metal that keep the sound fresh. “So that Leviathan May Strike Again” opens up with a series of disorienting guitar parts that overpower the vocals and bring out a very big doom and sludge feel.

Then there is “Polymorphic Monochromatic Hologram,” which finally, mercifully, ditches the vocals and goes instrumental only. The track brings out the doom aspects in full force, and sounds like it would be killer in a pit. Each crawling and heavy riff involuntarily induces slow motion head banging. The final song on the album is likely to invoke actual anger in the audience, as decent clean singing suddenly comes out of nowhere. The decision not to use this style in place of the headache inducing growling makes it seem like Xeper hates their audience and enjoys their torment. Whether that’s admirable or annoying is up to the listener to decide.

While there is a good deal of melodic guitar tones and interesting doom on “Discourses On Anything So Absolute,” it just simply isn’t worth wading through the abysmally bad vocals to find any of it. Before Xeper could be recommended to anyone they need to either become a completely instrumental band, or find themselves a real vocalist who can deliver growls that don't make the audience toy with the idea of suicide.

Highs: One instrumental track that has some decent doom and sludge going on.

Lows: Nearly every single song is systematically destroyed by the absurdly terrible vocals.

Bottom line: The music itself is interesting, but the word "terrible" doesn't even begin to describe the vocals.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)