Maximum Metal Rating Legend
5 Excellent - Masterpiece. A classic.
4.5-4 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a lacking.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio.
2.5-2 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors.
1.5-1 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible - Waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.
Of Erthe and Axen: Act 1
Erthe and Axen
8/16/2017 - Review by: Greg Watson
A masterful piece of storytelling interwoven with epic music
California's Xanthochroid are something of a dying band form these days. Focusing on crafting both quality music and thoughtful lyrics, the band eschews the formula to churn out cookie-cutter sounding metal that lacks substance. The story that has been created by frontman Sam Meador is one that is not only well written but really helps you build a connection to the characters that star in the story and the songs. The story alone could take up a whole review but it's best to experience it yourself rather than have it explained through someone else's perspective.

With "Of Erthe and Axen: Act 1", Xanthochroid once again meld the phenomenal storytelling and musical pieces together in a wondrous and truly epic mixture. The first thing that struck me with this release was the somewhat more subdued quality of the music. On 2012's 'Blessed He With Boils', the band offered a blend of acoustical, choral pieces paired with thundering orchestral black metal. While this album follows that formula somewhat, the music on this album is more of the acoustic, choral blend with a few sprinklings of black metal throughout. But the album itself is still heavy in its content with the depth of the story and the actions that take place throughout the album. I felt that it was very classically influenced, with Baroque and Renaissance-era classical music being the main forms that really asserted themselves as the foundation for the musical base. The musicianship is top notch and each song is intricately crafted to mirror the storyline that plays out through each track. What you get with this release is a totally immersive experience that almost feels like a grandiose audiobook recording.

Musically, the band really captures the emotions that are only strengthened and enhanced by the phenomenal lyrical work of each song. The vocals, which feature male (Sam Meador), female (Ali Meador) and choral pieces, really do their part to convey the emotions in each song. The fact that Xanthochroid is able to create such beautifully rendered music while also creating tempestuous black metal is impressive in that the quality of the bm is equal to the more subdued and symphonic pieces in every way, shape and form. I also cannot stress enough how lyrically incredible Xanthochroid is. I find myself lost in the lyrics and whisked away to the world of Etymos. The sheer scope of what the band has laid in the groundwork for the world of Etymos is just staggering and the fact that they continually add to the happenings in this world is nothing short of amazing.

I've spent a few weeks with this album at this point and I am still finding things that I have missed on my subsequent listens each time I go back through the album. This is definitely one that is worth spending some time with and not one that you can simply breeze through and get a feel for. If you're looking for something that is truly different, well-thoughtout and written, you cannot go wrong with picking up "Of Erthe and Axen: Act 1" for yourself and losing yourself in the wonder and splendor of this incredible musical landscape.

Blessed He With Boils
Erthe and Axen
Greg Watson6/28/2013
Of Erthe and Axen: Act 1
Erthe and Axen
Greg Watson8/16/2017
Of Erthe and Axen: Act II
Erthe and Axen
Greg Watson10/11/2017


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