As this is IXXI’s debut appearance on "The Metal Observer", as always, a quick introduction is in order; IXXI hail from Stockholm, Sweden and “Assorted Armament” is in fact their second album. Their debut, “IXXI”, was released in 2006. The genre description reads Black Metal, and that is exactly what this is, but do not expect to hear too much relentless blasting and high velocity riffing pounding at your eardrums. The band name is also an interesting one and if it does have a meaning beyond being a palindrome. It could be roman numerals for 20, or possibly 1, 10, 10, 1, which written in binary converts to the number 53, which is the ASCII code for 5, which is the number of minutes I wasted trying to make sense of it. Onwards...
During the opening few seconds of the album (after “Intro”), you won’t guess that you’re listening to a Black Metal album, and this sets the tone for an album that is at times full-blooded Black Metal, only to slip into something a little more elegant. This album has a certain “groove” about it that makes it an enjoyable listen – an underlying feeling of rolling Black Metal is what makes this a little different that the plethora of other Black Metal albums hitting our headphones lately. The expressive drumming adds character to the music, and the music steps lightly into Doom Metal territory from time to time, but never strays too far from some nasty Black Metal. The band display a wide array of musical talents and ideas on the album, and while it might take some time to get into, it all turned out pretty neat.
The medium paced, head bang inducing riffs really hit the spot at times, but unfortunately gets a little monotonous and unimaginative in the later phases of the album. On this album there are also a few extensive passages of monologue which, fortunately, is accompanied by music, (almost a whole track dedicated to this narrating) and while this serves a purpose, it also dulls the edge off this album just a little. This album drags out a little towards the end, but there is some good Metal to be heard here and the overall quality is unmistakable - IXXI is a name worth remembering and who knows what the future might hold for the Swedes.
(Online April 25, 2008)