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Beaten To Death - "Xes and Strokes" (CD)

Beaten To Death - "Xes and Strokes" CD cover image

"Xes and Strokes" track listing:

1. Pointless Testament
2. Winston Churchill
3. On Running
4. A Soulless Alarm
5. 3-2-1, It's On
6. Cat Olympics
7. A Word To The Wise
8. Groundhog Day
9. Xes And Strokes

Reviewed by on January 21, 2012

"Beaten to Death offers a raw and brutal debut with “Xes and Strokes,” a blistering 18-minute dose of grit infused grind and hardcore with some compellingly melodic underpinnings."

Hailing from black metal’s back yard of Oslo, Norway, Beaten to Death offers a raw and brutal debut with “Xes and Strokes,” a blistering 18-minute dose of grit infused grind and hardcore with some compellingly melodic underpinnings. As the guitar, bass, and drum tracks were all recorded live together in a single weekend, with the vocals being added a few days later, the album captures the savage, in-the-moment intensity that is lacking in so many of today’s prepackaged and overly sterile modern metal releases.

Getting things off to a cacophonous start is “Pointless Testament,” a pummeling, blasting track with a brutal hardcore bark of a vocal delivery courtesy of vocalist Anders. The music is simple and heavy, with a large helping of old school hardcore influence. Mika’s massively distorted bass tone is a huge part of the band’s sound, which for the most part keeps to a grind and at times death n’ roll type schematic. But you can hear elements of d-beat and occasional modern day breakdowns here and there, along with some brutal, gurgled vocals such as the long, drawn out death rattle at the end of “Winston Churchill.”

One thing that is unique about Beaten to Death’s style is that guitarists Martin and Tommy layer melodious hooks under the typical hardcore and grind three and four chord flurries. In “Soulless Alarm,” a melodic arpeggio lies underneath the blast, and drummer Christian makes great use of some Gene Hoglan style triplets. The drums sound huge, and are given plenty of room to blast in the mix—a refreshing change from the typewriter click that seems to be the favored trigger du jour for so many of today’s engineers and producers.

Some of the song titles on the album, such as “3-2-1, It’s On,” and “Cat Olympics,” border on the ridiculous, but do nothing to detract from the brutal catchiness of the music. It’s blunt, but nuanced, and quite different from the rest of the grind pack. Could this be the beginning of melodic grind? While grind is definitely the backbone of Beaten to Death, and a sturdy one it is, the melody is always there, lurking unobtrusively yet omnipresent in the background, keeping the balance and providing a visceral emotional contingent, as can be heard on “A Word to the Wise.”

Beaten to Death is catchy enough to have crossover appeal and brutal enough for purists willing to bend a bit. The tracks can get a bit repetitive, as is the bane of grind, but this band has found a way to take some different parts of preexisting sub-genres and make something unique. Sure, there are breakdowns, indeed there’s a massive one in the title track, and nods to certain parts of modern metal some would rather just go away, but Beaten to Death is definitely a band worth paying attention to. Long live melo-grind.

Highs: The melodic touches add a bold new factor to the grind game.

Lows: Some may find a few of the song titles hard to get past.

Bottom line: Beaten To Death offers furious melodic grindcore that fires on all cylinders and is absolutely worth a listen.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 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)