Seven Words

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Behind The Walls Of Treachery
02. Seven Words
03. Spit Coin
04. The Altar Of Nothing
05. Everybody Loves You When You're Dead
06. Reckless With A Smile
07. Ghost Tape Number 10
08. My War
09. Kill And Protect
10. Anything But The Truth
11. Billion Dollar Babies

It was primarily a nasty dose of bad timing that finished XENTRIX off first time around. The triumphant comeback of the British thrash legends pulled off with 2019's "Bury The Pain" must have felt like hard-earned vindication. As they tapped instinctively into the inventive but fearlessly straight-ahead thrash of their first two albums, there was a chewable sense of unfinished business being attended to. The fact that new frontman Jay Walsh was a perfect fit was a welcome bonus benefit, and the only real frustration was that it had taken XENTRIX so long to get their shit together in the first (or should that be second?) place. Either way, mission accomplished, and the stage was set for the band to push on and cement their reputation as something more than a retooled blast from the past.

For once it's a source of great joy that "Seven Words" is — occasional surprises notwithstanding — more of the same. The rugged, melodic thrash that XENTRIX first mastered way back on 1989's "Shattered Existence" was built with the highest production standards, and from opener "Behind The Walls Of Treachery" to a concluding cover of Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies", "Seven Words" sounds authoritative and sonically dynamic, with just about the right amount of dirt under its fingernails. Yes, XENTRIX deal in thrash metal archetypes, but with a degree of skill that belies their underdog status.

The songs themselves are uniformly great. "Seven Words" itself is a fiery, mid-paced smasher, with a dourly infectious refrain that Walsh delivers with real spite. "Spit Coin" takes a swipe at financial bro-downs over a blackly melodic backdrop. "Everybody Loves You When You're Dead" at first appears to be the obligatory thrash ballad, but turns out to be a monstrous, stomping barrage of threats and promises. From the snappy, shit-kicking "Reckless With A Smile" and the melodic but warped riff worship of "My War" to the ugly speed metal attack of "Kill And Protect", XENTRIX are audibly in the zone and every bit as potent as they were 30 years ago. It certainly doesn't hurt that Dan Goldsworthy's pitch-perfect artwork is pretty fucking cool, too.

"Seven Words" reaches one peak of power on "Anything But The Truth": a jagged, manic sprawl that builds from opulent intro to all-out, angular thrash, exhibiting an unashamed debt to the genre's greats along the way, but always sounding more like classic XENTRIX than anything else. Long may their rejuvenated campaign continue.

Author: Dom Lawson
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