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Xystus - Equilibrio Review

by Matt Hensch

Comrades, welcome to musical history. You probably haven't heard of Xystus before, as the faction is highly obscure; that is, until they tapped a rock opera with over one-hundred musicians contributing to the final project. A zesty gambit, I must say, but do not turn away in horror; the release is quite the opposite of any pessimistic prophecies. Simply put, Equilibrio is one of the finest items I have ever had the honor of hearing. Power metal, an orchestra, five singers, and a lyrical concept so cool one will have bricks in their trousers? Yes, I will take it!

Be sure to bring some diapers in case you hate that feeling, because it shall happen many times. Now I do not know much about symphonic music, but I do understand what makes it interesting, and that is what this record without fault. As interesting as it sounds, the orchestra compresses the spine of Equilibrio with galactic rings from various tools working perfectly in unison. The barrage never ceases, and everything remains fresh and entertaining. I am no expert on this kind of music, in case you did not get the memo. The variety, though, between cuts like "The Traveler" and "God of Symmetry" is simply outstanding, especially when experiencing the whole effort clashing magically with these unusual instruments. At day's end, we have got violins, French horns, trumpets, and a sh*tload of other pieces found in this incredible symphony.

Prior to this recording, Xystus was a full-blown power metal band, yet those roots within the group remain tenderly sweet throughout this experimental apparatus. The riffs, even though clashing into the symphony, are primarily mid-paced and speedy cuts of golden proportions that shriek of old-school genocide done by the guitars. Also, those drums are fantastic! Always using those bass pedals and applying slick patterns underneath these unique formulas with steady support that just will not quit! More so, Xystus does not let the symphony interfere with their metallic presence. But sweet symphonies, ballsy riffs, hammering percussion, beautiful keyboards, and wonderful musicianship all play a consistent role in manufacturing Equilibrio without leaving any promise behind. There really is not a need for wild guitar work or anything typically aiding the effort, because Equilibrio already has its own methods of mysticism that work on spellbinding territories. A tornado…it is blowing me away…and it is awesome! Not that an actual tornado is fun, of course.

The interesting objective, however, is achieved throughout the album's wonderful concept, which includes five characters played by a pentagon of varied vocalists: Xystus' Bas Dolmans, Simone Simons of Epica fame, two famous musical actors dubbed Michelle Splietelhof and John Vooijs, with George Oosthoek continuing his growling madness as the tale's nemesis. Together sharing the microphone, these five vocalists are fantastic, singing operatic vocals with valorous might, while applying melancholic notes when growls overlap the operatic atmosphere for a singing experience unlike anything I have ever heard. Four singers and a growler? Sounds like a sitcom on ABC, or perhaps just an incredible album!

It is so gripping though, because narrative passages, alternating singers of several diverse areas, musical backgrounds, and the lyrical concept all play essential parts in making this album work. I would say Equilibrio reminds me of a clock that turns forever: Xystus starts with the orchestra on all fronts, then the hand ticks, and in comes a vocalist; once it moves again, new materials emerge until the listen ends, at its final second, always providing something new each and every moment. Everything (and I mean everything) works in that continuum, with symphonic gold and bulls-eye perfection. Kids doing meth are retarded; Xystus has the good stuff!

I honestly could never emphasis the sheer power and abstract magic obtained by Equilibrio, because simple words cannot power Xystus' dynamic experiment without failing to hold on to all positives; indeed, this record is too good for human ears. The sensational concept falls into Heaven's hands through its otherworldly gamble, and Xystus has undisputedly reached their finest hour through this unconventional experiment, played out perfectly, in every way imaginable. Yes, one may have a hard digesting it at first, but do not put that record down; once Equilibrio settles in, a personal haven will await you, stacked with goodies and an infinity of enjoyment. This is a grain from utopia.

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Xystus - Equilibrio


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