Album Review: Mordrake – Xenobiotic
Favorite Songs: Saphris, Fractured, Light That Burns the Sky
Xenobiotic is a hidden gem I randomly found scrolling through someone’s Instagram page. When I listened to their song Saphris, I was instantly hooked. It honestly shocked me to see that their monthly listener rate was moderately low on Spotify, given their unique sound and incredible talent. Unfortunately, it was difficult finding information on them, so it took some digging. The band originates from Australia, which is a hardcore country in itself (have you seen pictures of their spiders?), and consists of Nish Raghavan and Cam Moore on guitars, David Finaly on bass, TJ Sinclair for vocals, and Mikey Godwin on drums. This team perfectly combines sounds of black metal and technical death metal with a refreshing, progressive approach to lyricism. Their name itself, Xenobiotic, refers to something relating to a substance, typically a synthetic chemical, that is foreign to the body. Their artwork immediately caught my eye, and while you can’t judge a book by its cover, their album Mordrake is as complex, chaotic, and beautiful as the artwork suggests. The humanoid figure appears to be mummified or strewn in some form of web and is cutting or ripping open its chest to reveal a moon, mountains, and dark figures. In my opinion, this is just as brutal as any song on the album and suggests something dark and profound.
Mordrake opens with Insomnia, an eerie, atmospheric sound that quickly descends into heavy, melodic riffs, carefully placed drums, and deep gutturals and bone-chilling shrieks. The album proceeds to get heavier with each song, inducing a whirlwind of emotion and aggression without becoming too overwhelming. Light That Burns the Sky showcases TJ’s range and power, as well as their meaningful lyricism. It seems to highlight the process of cognitive dissonance and the confusion and desperation that often follows. My favorite song, Saphris, has a beautiful, atmospheric introduction – the calm before the storm. It explodes into an intense, overwhelming breakdown that grows into a violent expression of heartache, unfurling into disarray. Needless to say, this is one of the most beautiful, powerful metal songs I have ever listened to. There are not enough words I can find to describe the emotion expressed in this song. Saphris, a nickname for the medication Asenapine that is used to treat mood disorders such as schizophrenia, perfectly induces the feeling of internal chaos, uncertainty, and hope that is felt in mental illness. Mental illness seems to be a common theme and they perfectly capture the numerous intricate facets it presents. Their music calls for reflection of oneself and the nature of the human psyche and emotion. I truly hope Xenobiotic get the recognition they deserve one day, and I am so excited to have found a band I can continuously fall back on when I need the release. Give them a listen and strap yourself in for a brutal, emotional experience!