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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Review: Xerión – Danças de agonia e peste

Label: Nigra Mors Productions

Date: July 25th, 2020

Some musicians really make use of the quarantine time they’ve been given. Xerión is one of the most active in that regard. Their year 2020 is already ridden with releases, so here’s another one. And a completely different one at that. They’ve been doing crude black metal intertwined with local folklore since 2001. Now they have stripped their music of black metal completely. Hell, this album sounds like they’ve turned off the electricity and gone completely acoustic. Aside of the sample used to open the sixth track. The legendary Rutger Hauer monologue from “Blade Runner”.

To make matters even more interesting, Xerión uses replicas of their native, traditional, medieval instruments, instead of modern musical aids. Also, did I hear a bit of conversation at the end of track five? Could it be that the whole thing was recorded live? But they are going even further in making this one of the weirdest and most thought-out releases I’ve encountered in my career as a musical enthusiast. Along with the songs which are completely devoid of vocals, you get lyrical sheets with poems to recite on your own. This way, Xerión invites you into their world. Let’s you join in and become the actual third member. If you know the language, that is. Since their inception, the duo has used Galician language, which adds to the authenticity but leaves the listener wandering.

But where did the inspiration come? “Dances of agony and plague” is the translation of the title. Do you get it now? Yes, I’m sure you do. Surrounded by the modern plague, such as we all are, Xerión derives inspiration from it. Hence the solemn, yet dignified atmosphere surrounding the songs. As if they are to be performed in a medieval chapel as farewell anthems to those who fell under the spells of the Black Death. I can almost picture a rural landscape, decimated by the disease with few remaining villagers escorting their loved ones to their final resting place.

Xerión has been giving us hints of this for a couple of years now. Every now and then they placed a song or two in this manner on their releases. Still, a complete, 24 minute long recording of such music came as a total surprise to me. However, “Danças de agonia e peste“ remains a nice break from the electrifying music usually pumping out of my speakers. This is an album to widen your musical horizons. And as such, I find it amazing!