I’m a big fan of French Metal, as anyone who knows my musical whims can confirm, a possible reason for this might be the genealogical connection, but there are a lot of quality bands releasing albums in France that often go unnoticed around the world. I was excited at the possibility of discovering another gem when I discovered the origins of XTRUNK, yet weary of finally being disappointed in a way that BENIGHTED, GOJIRA and YYRKOON did not.
My anticipation was suddenly slightly irked soon after the start of the first track by the clean, melodic vocals that suddenly popped up and showed its spotty face, and after a very good first impression, this was a bit worrying. But more on that later.
To describe the musical style of XTRUNK is not merely as simple as Death Metal, Thrash Metal and -core; rather than being a stylistic combination of genres, “Not In Vain” is a Metal album influenced by Death Metal (slightly Melodic- at times), Thrash Metal and -core. So what’s the difference I hear you ask? It is that XTRUNK can never be labelled as a Death, Thrash or -core Metal band because at no point do they simply play Death, Thrash or Hardcore and this probably would not be your cup of tea if you only enjoy one of the genres. There is a lot of mid-tempo stuff on the album, but it is mainly really heavy riffs, ear shattering screams and growls with exploding drums and bass blasting everything out of the way. As if to let the darkness creep up silently again, the melodic mid-tempo vocals create almost haunting interludes in a brutal and heavy album that should appeal to many Modern Death and Thrash Metal fans.
The only disagreement I have with “Not In Vain” is the clean vocals used ever so often during the album, and while I do not want to discourage this, it needs to toughen up a bit not to subtract from what is a very beefy album overall. My first impression was that I would have liked the album much more if the clean vocals were kept to a minimum, but the varying style of XTRUNK brings a lot of variety to the music and the vocals compliment that superbly throughout. I don’t want to blow the trumpet too loudly though as this album could have been better in some ways, but for a debut this rocks the balls of most statues and deserves to be heard.
(Online August 12, 2008)