Xenobyt - Nine Nights in the House of Harrow
This review was commissioned. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
I always get a little nervous reviewing music wherein the cover art just is not that great. Sure, there are times when bands such as The Gothsicles will use MS Paint styled art in either an ironic or humorous tone, but that needs to be well established firsthand. In the case of Xenobyt, a synthwave project blending cinematic elements, that is not the case. And while, in the end, cover art never has an impact on the score that I give a release, it does make a first impression for myself and many other scouring the countless releases on Bandcamp. In the case of Xenobyt’s “Nine Nights in the House of Harrow”, the cover looks as if someone used a free version of an AI art generator, got a half-baked result, accepted it, and downloaded the low-res version of the art to avoid paying for the premium version. Now, I’ve no problem with AI art at all; in fact I’ve seen some incredible AI fan art produced. But this doesn’t look like it was touched up at all and has no heart or soul.
Skipping into the music, however, we get something not wholly original but nothing horrible either. A lot of Xenobyt’s music is by-the-books for the genre; it’s creepy synthwave music in every sense of the word mixed with a bit of electronic rock here and there. The opening track is quite good at what it does; like the opening crawl of an old-school horror movie does ‘The Forsaken’ set pace for the rest of the album. Creepy organ-like synths, a beat-by-the-minute approach creating an eerie suspense, and shots of ominous backing lines create a pretty spooky atmosphere. At the same time, this isn’t anything new or groundbreaking; it’s something that I’ve heard a million times from a million other horrorsynth projects attempting to make it in the scene. Again, not terrible, not great, generally meh.
‘ENTITY’ is the first case where we get a tase of Xenobyt’s electronic rock influences. But that’s just about as much as I can say about it; it’s a bit of horror synthwave mixed with electronic rock. While I wouldn’t exactly call it stock, it is rather stiff. The song, which lasts around five-minutes and then some, runs its course dry after only a minute or two with the rest of it being drawn out fluff. Passing through a good chunk of the album and heading right into ‘Paracode’ doesn’t do much for me either. I point to this song as it’s a bit different from the rest going into chill territory. Now, I found a playlist on Spotify that I often reach out to during relaxing hours that’s filled with tons of phenomenal chillwave tracks. And this doesn’t stand up to them; the quality isn’t as good and production is not fantastic either. Mediocre is the word I’m looking for.
To dive into the rest of the album track-by-track would be a redundant effort in telling you that it’s all so bland. I feel a bit like Gordon Ramsay judging another chef’s dish when I say that, but it’s true. While the basics are present within Xenobyt’s works, there’s not enough spice to keep it interesting for all that long. Every single song on the album is predictable and feckless. After a minute or two, I lose my interest and want to move onto the next thing until the same thing happens over and over again until I hit the last track.
I’m unsure as to what Xenobyt can do to improve their craft other than keep practicing and gain further critical feedback from other musicians. Perhaps outsource mixing / mastering to another producer to gain a second set of ears before finalizing the product.Jan 15 2023
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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