Black metal has a wide range of qualities but the one that will always stand out is the ever growing roots of its beginning. That, which is stripped from outside influences other than pure darkness and sombre emotions residing somewhere deep down in each of us. Maybe you don’t like categories and labels but what I refer to is its traditional form and today’s recommendation pays homage to it exclusively. Meet Germany’s Ekstsis whose debut EP “Xthonic Pathways” was released last month through Obscure Abhorrence Productions.
You see, Ekstsis’ contribution is not just important. In fact, it is vital! Every once in a while, we should be all reminded of the original state of this genre whose conception may seem to be washed away at times. In the attempt to improve what was previously out there, many artists fail to realize that the raw substance inevitably transforms, thus loses the synergy between man’s darkened nature and the void. Nevertheless, releases like “Xthonic Pathways” immediately draw the line back to the infernal spawn where its exquisite core burns intensely. Anyway, let’s take a look at the package itself.
Speaking of sins, the only one I could think of is that Ekstsis delivered a way too short debut with a total of 25 minutes. Seriously, it’s got so much going on, which is why from the very first spin of the CD, I had that vision as if I was listening to a well established band with a colossal presence in the extreme metal battlefield. The main point that makes this release a success is the stellar musicianship and in-depth understanding of how to channel absolute darkness to music in order to create a vessel for the forces from beyond and a piece of art simultaneously.
Now, when it comes to influences, “Xthonic Pathways” is firmly built upon the 90’s unshakable foundation, however, further refined through modern production. That extra mile for the proper sound engineering was the first highlight that stood out right after I clicked the play button. The clarity of the instrumentals, and the incredibly crisp vocals make the whole experience a bliss that should not be missed on! On the other hand, concerning the music itself, well, it was not meant to reinvent this genre but more like present a different angle to it. As I see it, Ekstsis not only had the intention of invoking a morbid occult atmosphere but also invite the listener to scrutinize the lyrical message behind in order to be one step closer to obscure divinity.
It’s seldom to bump into an album that is easy to read in terms of the lyrics. Most are overwhelmed by the vortex of intense riffage and storming drumming, which is not all bad but it is challenging to decipher what the content inside is all about. Instead of leading, vocals are often placed somewhere in between the whole madness and things get outright chaotic. With “Xthonic Pathways” however, there is a strict control over the building components bursting with devastating aggressiveness and the venomous wording on top. Ekstsis obviously want the listener to pay more attention to the lyrics, which I can summarize through the following lines:
Some memories will never fade
Some wounds will never heal
Only death can obliterate
The monuments of pain
Some of the finest and most beautiful gems are buried deep underground and only the tireless seekers will get their hands on. Ekstsis’ “Xthonic Pathways” is such a gem that I strongly advise to check out right away. It won’t take much of your time but will definitely leave you impressed.
1. The Stars Rekindled
2. Xthonic Pathways
3. Hail the Abyss
4. Eater of Dreams
5. A Light to Dead Eyes
Total running time: 25:26