Best Songs from Xanthochroid's of Erthe and Axen (Act I)

Element119
Xanthochroid is often considered an epic progressive black metal band, though the band terms themselves "cinematic black metal", however, they are very hard to classify as a particular genre especially on Of Erthe And Axen. The band is from Lake Forest, California and has released 2 full length albums (Of Erthe And Axen being split into two parts), with their debut album, Blessed He With Boils, being released on December 21, 2012, Act I of Of Erthe And Axen released on August 22, 2017, and Act II of Of Erthe And Axen being released on October 17, 2017. Despite Of Erthe And Axen being split into two releases, I would definitely say it sounds best listened to together (it's a concept album and you're only getting half of the story if you only listen to one part). The first act is a lot less heavy in general (though it has a few pretty heavy songs), containing multiple soft and folky songs, than the second act (which is mostly darker and heavier) and it works well in this case. The band has created their own fantasy world and mythology and their released music tells the stories of their self-created mythology (Of Erthe And Axen being the prequel in terms of storyline to Blessed He With Boils and their EP titled Incultus).

Honestly, while I have not announced a favorite album of this past year, if I had to choose a favorite from 2017, Of Erthe And Axen (both acts) would be a likely choice. It was definitely an album that took a bit of time to grow on me from when I first discovered it back at the end of 2017, but since then it has become an album I greatly enjoy and have grown to love.

The Top Ten

1 To Higher Climes Where Few Might Stand

The first primarily metal track on the album, To Higher Climes Where Few Might Stand is a song of epic proportions from the dark and brooding sounding intro onward. The softer section around the 4 minute mark sounds great with the rest of the song and the parts where the choir style vocals kick in are really great throughout the song, and the way they are applied in some sections of the song on certain words/syllables sounds very cool. - Element119

2 The Sound Which Has No Name

The final track of the first act, The Sound Which Has No Name is a great closing epic to Of Erthe And Axen (Act I). Roaring in with intensity, this song has some very great and epic symphonic moments. I also really enjoy the vocal line that is repeated various points through the song such as after the line "and we foolish men, the price refused". My favorite section would have to be the part starting at about the 4:45 mark through the next couple minutes as a sort of climax to the song. - Element119

3 The Sound Of Hunger Rises

Starting off with a unique a-cappella introduction in Latin, The Sound Of Hunger Rises is a pretty great song overall and has a very well done closing section ending with the line "how long have I laboured, how deep lie the crusted jewels of my innocence" and closing off with an acoustic folky sounding section that makes a good resolution to the song considering its many heavier moments. - Element119

4 To Souls Distant And Dreaming

Much of To Souls Distant And Dreaming is purely instrumental. This piece primarily has a very calming and relaxing sound to it and has become one of my favorites of the album to listen to. Even when the vocals kick in, the slow and calm vibe of the song is not disturbed. The ending section of this track is also pretty cool, with a percussion sound in the background going along with the peaceful acoustics. - Element119

5 In Deep And Wooded Forests Of My Youth

One of three tracks on this album featuring female vocals (there are only a couple lines in one song with them on Act 2), this is a nice piece featuring very folk-sounding music. While I prefer their more epic metal pieces a bit, these tracks are still pretty great and sound amazing in the context of the album. Directly following To Souls Distant And Dreaming, this song carries on the serene feeling the previous track gave off. - Element119

6 The Sound Of A Glinting Blade

Right after The Sound of Hunger Rises, The Sound Of A Glinting Blade has more of a somber and nostalgic feeling portrayed through most of the song although it does build up a bit towards the end, directly going into The Sound That Has No Name. - Element119

7 Open The Gates, O Forest Keeper

The intro track into Of Erthe And Axen, Open The Gates, O Forest Keeper starts off softly but sounds like the start of some sort of theatrical symphony sort of performance and serves as an great introduction to this album. - Element119

8 To Lost And Ancient Gardens

While this may be the lowest ranked track from this album, it's definitely not a bad song although I'd consider it my least favorite from both acts of Of Erthe And Axen, but this is only the second track of the album then and everything after this (and in Act 2) I would consider amazing quality. This song is still quite good though and enjoyable. - Element119

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