While the UK thrash scene was not held in the same regard as its US and European counterparts, Britain could still hold its own in the thrash stakes and Xentrix was top of the pile and the foursome made considerable waves with their debut album Shattered Existence and its follow up For Whose Advantage? It was clear from the outset that Xentrix had the Americans in sight and a love for the Bay Area – not that the band was aping their US cousins and actually brought something British about their approach as well – but Xentrix were serious contenders. Then the wheels fell off. There is likely to be a number of points of view as to the third album Kin in 1992; some would say that the band was spreading their wings creatively and others would say that was a step too far, the album was over commercial and deliberately so. Changing times did not help and beyond a couple of jittery attempts to start again, the band broke up.
Fast forward to 2019 and Xentrix arrived with a new guitarist and singer in Jay Walsh and their album Bury the Pain was a return in more ways than one with the quartet stamping their authority on a thrash resurgence that has yet slowed down. Bury The Pain takes Xentrix back to their beginnings, is totally trimmed of fat and a focused thrash-machine of a record that could happily live third line with the two original albums.
To that end, Seven Words does follow on from its predecessor and contains a collection of songs that does exactly what it says on the tin. What is obvious is despite the on/off of the band in the past, the experience the band has gained is expertly piled into the albums and once again, it is a lean listen that gets down to business from the off, perfectly framed and brimming with confidence. The production is absolutely crystal and if there was one thing about Bury The Pain, the sound was a little too pointed whereas Seven Words has the rough edges rounded down which actually gives it more punch. There is no searching for instruments, the mix is tremendous, guitars are sharp, the bass rumbles, the drums batter and with Walsh’s gritty delivery front and centre, even as a recorded experience, it is one worth savouring.
As should come as no surprise, Xentrix has not let go of those beginnings but Seven Words does see Xentrix trying out new things. For sure, there are some devoted thrashers such as the raging title track that bullets its way through its rampage and there are of course those backwards glances and the Metallica and Slayer-isms that pepper throughout. The surprise is when the tempo is slowed down and before there are any screams of “Kin!” – not quite – but Everyone Loves You When You Are Dead has more stomp to it and delves into rhythm and a strange catchiness and that bass on the early part of the track is just stunning. Nestled between the thrashers, these slower tempos allow the album to breathe, different shades of darkness maybe but shades never the less and songs like Split Coin will take deviations in the tempos making for a no less concentrated song but throws in the twists and turns. With plenty of riff barrages and solid drumming courtesy of Dennis Gasser, Seven Words is absolutely on point in its delivery across the board.
There is plenty of great thrash around at the moment but Seven Words is no slouch and for anyone that might believe that this is the work of the underdog then this is an album that will change minds. The spectre of the past can often be seen as something of a restraint on progress but Xentrix more than adequately proves that while there may still be shades, when it is delivered with passion, terrific playing and the production is done just right then there is nothing else to it.
As much as previous record Bury The Pain was a great album for their new era, there is no doubt that Seven Words improves on its predecessor. The result is a modern day thrash album and one that will have no trouble in convincing the faithful that not only thrash is here to stay – but so is Xentrix.
Xentrix – Seven Words is released on 11 November via Listenable Records