"X-Nihilo" (Self-produced; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Long running Christian hard rock act X-Terra "X-Nihilo" is a collection of material that was written in 1997, 2005 and 2007. Much like their previous release, "Wolves," this album is a mix of styles. There are elements of hard rock, metal and others tossed in during the course of the fourteen tracks contained on this disc.

The influences are scattered as I hear early Rush, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and others. Unfortunately, the results are varied as well. This band obviously has some fine playing skills and their musicianship shines through in the varied drumbeats and the guitar solos. However, the writing ranges from just decent down to dull and scattered. They typically peak early in almost every song. However, they seem to lose momentum and direction as they get deeper into each track.

There is a tendency for the lyrics to just drag on and the vocals ramble on as well, robbing the songs of the cohesive feel that could have been there. They know how to create some fine harmonies with the music, but there are too few choruses that are memorable.

This was only a minor problem on the previous album but it has become more of a handicap this time around. There are standout parts here, but very few whole songs that really impressed me. That's a shame because this a veteran outfit who have done fine songs before but here they seem to have thrown organization to the wind and the final product suffered greatly.

For more information, check out http://www.myspace.com/xterra.

"Wolves" (Self-produced; 2003)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

"Wolves" was actually recorded back in 2001-2002, but the writing credits extend all the way back to the late 1980s. So we what we have here is Christian hard rock/metal that surprised me with the variety of sounds that it contained. 

The opener, “Wake Up,” is mid-80s melodic hard rock with a strong rhythm section and mildly rough vocals. Next up was “The Sun Will Shine Again” which came across as some kind of stale pop/rock that might have jammed up the airwaves back in the late 1970s, but it’s really the only weak track on this CD. After that, it’s just a big roller coaster of different influences as we get about three tracks that sound like Poison, one that kind of sounds like Twisted Sister, a couple that come near a "British Steel"-era Judas Priest sound plus one that reminded me of a cross between early Pentagram and mid-70s Alice Cooper ... and more. 

I suppose the fact that the writing credits span a time period of fifteen years has much to do with the wide variety of sound swirling around on this disc. I think that the strongest part was the rhythm section of bassist Anne Kachline and drummer Bob Kachline as they just kept solid pounding beats going and remained fairly consistent throughout. The guitars of Bill Hunt are solid and competent enough with a rich tone despite some slightly low production on a several tracks. Hunt’s vocals are mostly on track with a fair amount of range yet he certainly sounds better on the heavier tracks. 

The biggest shortcoming to me was that on several occasions the lyrics seem a bit jammed in like the band was trying a bit too hard to squeeze everything in and the result is serious lack of any kind of flow. Still, this is grab bag of an album because you never quite knew what was coming next due to the mix of sounds and, largely, the band handles most of the songs just fine.

For more information, check out http://www.neparocks.com/xterra1.htm

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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