This is a review of "Learning" recorded by Xi. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2001.
Xi are bunkered deep down on the dark side. They're Tommy Vance Jedi, in spangled cowls, trailing phosphorescent axes as if the Heavy Meal Ancestors still strode the Earth. They play music that bypasses the ears and brain and goes straight to the body parts that vibrate and rumble. It's heavy, man.
Did someone say Deep Purple? No - this isn't fake tribute wannabe nonsense. These lads have the true spirit and they're making the flame spark, choke and flare like something poisonously scary at the back of the Rock cave. This CD is seven slabs of rough granite, tortured off the same distant quarry and stacked against each other like unfinished tombstones. Turn 'em on, turn 'em up and obliviate your way to Valhalla.
There are sparkly chips of Korg and Yamaha [or some such]. But the basic elements are bass, drum, guitar and howling voices. 2 minutes 34 seconds into track 6 is a great place to be ... chug chug in the distance some huge guitar army comes crashing over the skyline at dawn and rips into a blistering blood soaked solo (not enough of these, lads get that man up the forbidden end of the fretboard a bit more and damn the guitar Nazis). Then some FX stuff and the relentless march on to a hero's death. Track six is a re-recorded and superior version of "Where Were You?" from the olden days of Aeon.
But no track stands out any more than Orc footsoldiers could stand above the seething mass. Each track is part of a well made, wholly consistent and completely convincing album. "Feelin' that' at track 2 flirts a bit uncertainly with a funkish bass line and a hint of Jethro Tull/Blodwyn Pig but otherwise you can bung the songs on in any order and you get a good surging slewing trip through head banging mental rock from the middle ages of another place and time.
If this is what frightens your demons, then go and see 'em at the Royal Park Cellars on October 5th. Catch them again at Bassment on the 20th, and take some extra cash buy the good looking CD. You'll love it.
Nice one Touchwood Studios.