Melodeath acts are a dime a dozen these days, so I’m faced with a great deal of acts in this genre and it’s hard to tell where the talented ones are. Fortunately, the publicist picked a good one with the oddly named but wonderfully proficient X.Kernel. I hope that the band change their name, but for sake of chemistry, let’s hope that they’ll stay together. This marks the debut recording from the Ukrainian quartet, which was originally released by Cimmerian Shade and will now see worldwide release, as it should. Hell, I didn’t even know who these guys were, nor how great they were. The influences are relatively easy to guess – you have a bit of Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork and Scar Symmetry, but sometimes the keyboards throw in a few gothic edges that roll them into early Graveworm territory (yeah, the good stuff) which also includes a few potent solos and even some rather deep vocal croons later on in the listen as a sort of clean approach. The disc is only about forty minutes long, but it sticks with you. That’s because X.Kernel seem to know what they’re doing and try to recall the genre at it’s most dark and metallic, rather than it’s most light-hearted. I feel that I’m listening to a real melodeath disc packed with dozens of notable melodies and keyboard sections that suggest to me the notion that even some of the greats like Insomnium and Mors Principium Est might need to abdicate their thrones. I think it’s the Graveworm feeling that really works for me, making me just want to dig completely into this album and wear it out, like I would have when I was a younger man. Even though this isn’t marketed as gothic melodic death metal, it definitely features those moments, making it a real heavy-hitter for me. Highly recommended.
(11 Tracks, 40:00)