XORSIST – At The Somber Steps Of Serenity (Album Review)

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A somber nod to the old Stockholm sound.

Vengeance is said to be a dish best served cold, but an equal case could be made that the same condition should dictate how Swedish death metal is served up. One of the recent bands to hit the scene that agrees with this sentiment is Stockholm-born trio Xorsist, which sports an approach to the old-school sound indicative of what was common in their locale about 30 years prior. In a somewhat similar fashion to earlier revivalist outfit Bloodbath, their adopted style takes on an all-encompassing amalgam of all the prime movers of the early Swedish scene, leaving no proverbial stone unturned while keeping things simple and to the point.

Nipping on the heels of a respectable debut just a year prior in 2022, this outfit’s second go in the studio dubbed “At The Somber Steps To Serenity” sees this fold in a slightly different circumstance. Where previously their number was adorned with a dedicated lead guitarist in Ragnar Larsson whom also handled bass duties, his subsequent exodus has found vocalist/guitarist Gustav Ryderfelt taking on lead duties while newly acquired bassist Birk Castenmalm brings a grimier bottom-end into the equation that ups this outfit’s affinity with the early Entombed sound. Nevertheless, an equally prominent degree of vintage Dismember, Unleashed and Grave influences also adorn this album, as well as maybe some slight hints of the earlier efforts of At The Gates.

Perhaps this album’s most distinctive feature, and arguably its greatest flaw, is the fuzzy and crackling guitar tone that has been selected to go along with an otherwise dank and deep production of the rhythm section. The result, when combined with a vocal performance out of Ryderfelt that favors a higher-pitched, sepulchral shriek with a slightly lesser degree of more guttural barks, is something that almost comes off as blackened in the same manner as something out of Dissection.

“At The Somber Steps Of Serenity” Album Artwork

To be clear, when dealing with the actual tonal structure of these songs, the style of the riffing and the frequent guitar solo chime-ins, this is purely a death metal album, yet ultimately comes off as frosty and melancholy rather than overtly brutal, a fact which is further bolstered by the woeful piano intro ‘A Life In Vain’ and the utterly somber acoustic interlude ‘Darkened Wings’ and similar passages adorning segments of the massive 8-minute title song that closes the album out.

Aside from the previously noted guitar tone being a bit on the lo-fi side of things and taking away somewhat from the more brutal moments of this album, this is a solid entry for those who prefer the old-fashioned stylings of the Stockholm death metal scene.

Elements of Dismember‘s thrash happy debut “Like An Everflowing Stream”, Entombed’s two seminal early 90s offerings, and even smatterings of the pioneering death ‘n’ roll sound of Wolverine Blues, as well as key elements from classic Grave and Unleashed are the key ingredients in this tasty stew of frozen entrails and spiritual woe. It might not exude the same sense of professionalism as Bloodbath, which probably owes to these musicians being a bit younger, but the fire and the moribund passion is definitely there.

Released By: Noise / BMG
Release Date: October 6th, 2023
Genre: Thrash / Speed Metal / Black Metal

“At The Somber Steps Of Serenity” Track-List:

  1. A Life in Vain
  2. Carve It Out
  3. Blessed By the Divine
  4. Imitation
  5. Coterie of the Depraved
  6. Banished To Obscurity
  7. Distorted Shapes
  8. Grace
  9. Darkened Wings
  10. At the Somber Steps To Serenity

Xorsist are:

  • Gustav Ryderfelt / Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
  • Birk Castenmalm / Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Alphonse Bouquelon / Drums, Backing Vocals

Order At The Somber Steps Of Serenity HERE.

8.0 Great

Following their 2022 debut studio outing and a significant subsequent shakeup in their lineup, Stockholm old school death metal revivalists Xorsist soldier on and reprise their competent approach to honoring the Swedish masters of the early 90s with another offering of frosty, moribund music.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8
  • Production 7.5
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