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Nephrolith - "Xullux" (CD)

Nephrolith - "Xullux" CD cover image

"Xullux" track listing:

1. Alpha (1:53)
2. Spiritual Departure (5:24)
3. Purification Of Culprit (5:40)
4. Abandoned Essence Part I (4:26)
5. Intermezzo (1:05)
6. Abandoned Essence Part II (4:09)
7. Xullux (5:36)
8. The Tale Of The Conquering Dusk (5:36)
9. Nocturnal Perception (5:21)
10. Putrefaction (5:50)
11. Subsistence Of Decease (6:24)
12. Omega (:51)

Reviewed by on May 30, 2011

"Deceptive in its approach, 'Xullux' has a lot more going for it than the standard-fare dreck much of the underground is cranking out."

Differentiating all the black metal bands out there is hard to do. So many bands; so many tremolo-picked riffs; so many mechanical blast beats. It all starts to blur into a static mess, where a record gets so predictable that a minute into the first song, the path is already drawn out for the rest of the record. Nephrolith’s debut “Xullux” does fall victim to this circumstance, but it’s not all grim outcomes for this quintet from Slovenia. The band has a lot more common sense than that, and with the crafty use of acoustic/lead guitar, overcome the obstacles of modern black metal.

Acoustics have been used in this genre a ton, and Nephrolith puts a classical spin on it. “Spiritual Departure” and “Subsistence Of Decease” benefit from the acoustic guitar in provoking a grand scope to the music. None of its usage is interpreted as a gimmick, placed in an appropriate location every time. The “Intermezzo” splits up “Abandoned Essence” and provides a brief reprieve. The short closer “Omega” puts a period mark on the album with the help of feisty acoustics.

With this being a black metal album, certain expectations can be assumed. The raspy yells preaching spiritual and existential values, the buzzing guitar, and the barrage of double bass drums are all essential parts of “Xullux.” These elements can be acquired from any other band, and the dry production doesn’t do anything to power them up. For a debut record, the production is strong, as the instruments don’t bleed into each other.

The record is top-heavy, as much of the freshness subsides by the time the title track comes around. To the band’s credit, they are able to avoid the record slumping into oblivion. On the second half, the acoustic are toned back, and the focus is on blistering black metal. A few of the tracks, like “The Tale Of Conquering Dusk” and “Putrefaction,” blend into one messy blur. However, those two have hidden highlights with tempo changes and unexpected technical rhythm from drummer Navtyr.

For a band just starting out, Nephrolith exposes a lot of talent on “Xullux.” While this is not the kind of record that will relate to a large percentage of the metal population, the minority into black metal will enjoy what the band comes up with. A few parts drag due to the lengthiness of the material, a complaint easy to tweak. Deceptive in its approach, “Xullux” has a lot more going for it than the standard-fare dreck much of the underground is cranking out.

Highs: Solid production, melodic black metal that isn't just a wall of sound, nice use of acoustic guitars

Lows: Album is top-heavy in terms of quality, a few of the longer tracks drag on

Bottom line: "Xullux" is melodic black metal that shows a lot of potential for future releases.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)