Much of the modern death metal scene seems to be focused around worshipping bands like Incantation and Immolation. While these groups are undoubtedly from an era where death metal reigned supreme, many of their followers fail to capture the sound of the first half of the 1990s. Fortunately, there are a handful of groups out there, like Boethiah, from the US, that do replicate a truly old school death metal sound. “Invocation of the Xenolith” is their debut record, and succeeds at emulating many of the classic Swedish bands (Carnage, Entombed, Dismember, and Unleashed all come to mind as relevant comparisons).
Boethiah achieves this authenticity through faithfully recreating the famed Swedish death metal guitar tone. Everything is tuned down and channeled through significant amounts of distortion and overdrive, making for a somewhat fuzzy sound to each of the riffs. Occasionally, Boethiah breaks out slower, harmonized notes or even more traditional leads in an effort to get more melodic. Some of these moments feel like more of an homage to Death, which is the one non-Swedish band that “Invocation of the Xenolith” can be comparable to at times. Both melody and a lack of blast beats prevent the record from being one long, indistinguishable blur.
Even though the band has drawn many comparisons to death metal legends, Boethiah manages to hold their own because they’re actually good songwriters. The album has much more to offer than simply being background noise for 41 minutes, and it demonstrates this right off the bat, as the three strongest tracks kick things off. There might be the infrequent moment that feels like a rehash of something else on the record, but there is a concerted effort to keep things fresh. “Voices Beyond”, for example, opens its solo with a clear reference to the main melody in “Hall of the Mountain King”, before unleashing a more death metal-oriented flurry of notes.
In the context of modern death metal, “Invocation of the Xenolith” is far superior to most of what is being released. Its shortcomings for me relate to my own preference for other death metal scenes than the Swedish one, but there is no doubt that this adequately fills the void of that realm. Anyone seeking crushing riffs, but retain an affinity for melody will worship at the altar of “Invocation of the Xenolith”!
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“Invocation of the Xenolith”
“Victory Through Carnage”
4.1/5 or 82%.