Xenomorph played churning, grinding death metal with a martial aspect. Made of many peaks and troughs, and not without a rich knowledge of mood, Empyreal Regimes is a supremely confident album in pacing and execution. It is also a progressive death metal album; songs, resembling open tapestries made from diverse threads, take off from a central launching point that is revisited only cursorily at certain stages, and send exploratory feelers in all directions. H.R. Giger’s critter from the band’s name and cover art may have nothing to do with the music contained here, but there is an undeniably intrepid, frontier spirit to Empyreal Regimes, a willingness to combine several extant metal styles to create a hybrid palpably its own.
Inspired by Morbid Angel‘s groove and picking technique, utilizing open power chords to gather momentum for the coming assault like Leprosy-era Death, tapping into the idiosyncratic song writing and dry production aesthetic of Order From Chaos, and occasionally exploding in a red mist of blasting violence like Napalm Death, Empyreal Regimes proves to be an expert understudy of all that is admirable in extreme metal. Somewhat sloppy but technically ambitious, thin-sounding drums manage to seep over and under and in between spaces within riffs that change on the fly between thrash-based staccatos and more conventional alternate picking, at times referencing the elongated, repetitive chaining of black metal . Xenomorph also frequently rely on a discombobulating dissonance to terminate phrases; unlike Immolation who compose whole riffs out of atypical chords, Xenomorph adopt strange shapes as an exclamation mark at the end of phrases. Riffs may not have great, individual memorability, but as components of songs reaching for a more expansive ideal on an album-wide scale, they are redoubtable. Empyreal Regimes is a solid, second-tier album from the old school whose likes will not be heard again; for fans of Infester, Revenant, Timeghoul and the aforementioned bands, this is well worth the investment.