Xaphan (United States Of America, Florida) – Sworn Enemies Of The Vatican

Florida’s black metal and brutal death/goregrind scenes are pretty vibrant, but otherwise, activity down here is in general very quiet. Xaphan is one of the few straight-up death metal outfits operating these days, and thank god for them, because sometimes you want to hear something that isn’t a blast beat or a tremolo riff. Xaphan plays a traditional breed of death metal with just enough modern flair to amp up the extremity without sacrificing the logical songwriting that defined death metal in the early 90s. In short, the ‘Sworn Enemies Of The Vatican’ demo is a very fresh and promising release for Florida’s heavy metal scene that stands up easily to artists much more well known.

A pretty good comparison can be made to fellow Floridians Infernaeon, but Xaphan pulls off their music much better than that better known artist. Other influences are present just as equally: Morbid Angel and earlier Cryptopsy primarily, with a bit of Origin and Vital Remains as well, generally in the lead sections, which employ quite a bit of sweep picking, both strange and atonal like the former and flamboyantly neoclassical like the latter. The defining feature of this music, after you’ve stripped away all the layers of technicality and songwriting, is pure, unbridled aggression. This almost has a thrashlike tendency of feeling faster than it actually is: the songs are just so ferocious that the band feels like it should fall apart at any moment. Xaphan uses Cryptopsy style blasting: that is, long stretches of blasts and tremolo, with the band collecting for a fill at the end of a half line of music. This creates an incredible atmosphere of tension, with ultra-fast, barely sustained speed splitting off into midpaced grooves left and right. It’s not ‘brutal death metal’, but it certainly is brutal.

But, unlike myself, mere delivery isn’t enough to sustain most peoples’ interest in a piece of music, so I’m happy to say that the songwriting skill on display is on par with many more high profile artists. While the band tends to lose a bit of coherency during the fastest, most violent sections, they’re very tight otherwise, with sharp, sinister riffing and almost constantly double-tracked vocals. While the production leaves something to be desired, with guitars too thin to be able to hear the melodies very clearly, you can still pick through it and hear some excellent riffing, like a sort of midpoint between Deicide and Vital Remains with hints of black metal as well. Each of the (fairly lengthy) tracks here are filled with strange and unique song structures that are a great deal more interesting than the average death metal band. That’s what Xaphan has effectively done: they’ve taken basic death metal and simply kicked it up a dozen or so notches, making it faster, darker, more aggressive, and generally more extreme without slipping into artifice.

I like this demo a lot. Xaphan is a band that’s unique enough to stand out, but doesn’t resort to novelty to make themselves known. They’re one of the most promising bands coming out of Florida’s local scene at the moment, and future releases are only bound to get better with improved production and time. It’s good to see that the flame of Floridian AntiChristian Kommandos hasn’t quite burned out yet. Strongly recommended, A++ would kill Christ again.

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~ by noktorn on September 13, 2007.

2 Responses to “Xaphan (United States Of America, Florida) – Sworn Enemies Of The Vatican”

  1. Hell yeh, Xaphan rules. I know these guys are going places. Death metal’s gonna get a facelift when Xaphan breaks out the Florida mold and hits the stage world wide. I’m behind these dudes 100%. Keep rockin and don’t let any corporate big-wigs change your sound.

  2. This is Manos from Spatio-Temporal Aentropy. I’ve seen em live, and they pull it off just as well live as they do on the demo… This band is DEFINITELY a must hear/see band, and they are definitely going places.
    ~Manos.

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