As the album dawns on dramatic brief intro Lux there is an immediate feeling that something striking is going to emerge within Xenogenesis the latest release from Portuguese progressive black metallers Darkside Of Innocence. Striking and perpetually intriguing it is intrusive and at times a formidable challenge but with strong rewards and an unexpected mesmeric appeal. Xenogenesis is an album that will find many casualties in its wake but will inspire many with its imagination and skilled maelstrom of ideas and sounds.
Formed in 2005 the description within their bio states that “Darkside of Innocence can be known as a solemn voyage through the universal consciousness; an introspection that reaches the higher levels of reasoning. It is enlightenment that bestows hence, the self with some awareness regarding its own core – it’s the path eternal of one, seeking to express its inner essence within art.” They bring an intense and to us lesser intellects a confusing path with their ideology, something their music matches. It also adds a depth and adventure to their creativity as it inspires individual thoughts and interpretations through their provocative sounds. Their debut album Infernum Liberus EST was released in 2010 following a previous demo Bloody Mistress which was an internet stream only in 2007. Now down to a one man project in the shape of Pedro Remiz, Darkside Of Innocence moved on to signing with Infektion Records for the release of Xenogenesis earlier this year.
After the intro Airian collapses upon the ear with a familiar black metal vehemence and invasive swarm of intensity. The vocals of Remiz scraping flesh with his rasping delivery as the melodies of the guitar brand and scorch the ear. Midway the song veers into chaotic and perpetually unpredictable avenues with female vocals soaring within the blackened spiralling energy and the track absorbing sounds and ideas from afar to twist them into a vindictive and provocative blistering of the senses. It is harsh and hard to break free from but within the attack there are some quite unique and striking elements unleashed.
It is from the following Dulcifer Tragoedia that unpredictability becomes the life force of the album and wonderfully enterprising it is even if almost impossible to keep up with and at times endure. Many bands venture into avant garde metal to widely diverse results but few are as deeply impactful as here, the track rupturing synapses and swiping away any safety net you might have in place. Challenging and emotively exhilarating it is a glorious flurry of unconnected yet suitably akin sounds and ideas.
If the previous track was a flurry of sound Nox Omega offers a dehabilitating bedlam of creativity, from its haunting nasally sax sounds to the streaming flood of venomous spite it splinters and thrashes feelings impressively and is the best track on the album. Multiple plays do not lessen the surprises and unexpected storm of musical contortions, just thrust them forth with more impact and malice, something applying to the whole album.
The excellent female vocals return in Eros to add a symphonic metal breath though the song cannot be labelled as such. It is hard to describe exactly the genre Darkside Of Innocence and Xenogenesis most represent such the striking sounds and craft and very good to see too. The more straightforward metallic thrust of Thanatos adds another turn with its direct and less complicated journey though it still crafts a disturbed atmosphere and corruptive intensity.
Completed by the equally absorbing and testing Ego and closing disturbed ambient instrumental piece D’eus , the album leaves one struggling to gain a firm footing but having enjoyed the startling experience even if the ear and senses claim different. Xenogenesis is an impressive album which will appeal to far fewer than it deserves but all should at least give it a try. With a new single in the works from Darkside Of Innocence it will be interesting to see now with a single mind behind the project how things develop but more of the same would not be unwelcome.