Xerxes' new album, Collision Blonde, is one that I have been looking forward to for several months now. The write up for this Kentucky four-piece band's new album that No Sleep Records put up on their site peaked my interest even more with every word. When I listened to the first single, I was immediately hooked and wanted more. With each passing day, Xerxes was moving further up my list of bands to watch out for. I finally got the opportunity to listen to and review the album and, while it doesn't live up to my high expectations, it is a good release. Collision Blonde is due to come out October 21 under No Sleep Records.
The opening track, "I Was Wrong," comes in with a steady drum rhythm and heavily distorted guitars layered with even more distorted vocals. This goes on for about two minutes until the next track, "Criminal, Animal," comes on and shows you what Xerxes has been doing under the hood for the past two years since the last full release, This Home Is Our Deathbed. Heavy rock guitar riffs, catchy bass lines and angsty vocal delivery fortified by persistently crushing drum beats makes up this track – as well as the majority of Collision Blonde. The fourth track, "Knife," is much more slower paced than the rest of the album, but it slays all the same.
The fifth track, "Use As Directed," is really bland and just layers screams over talking, much like the band's previous 7", Would You Understand?. The next song, "Chestnut Street," is easily the highlight of the album. With a guitar riff that will get stuck in your head for days, a faster pace and catchy hooks, this track is the one you will find yourself coming back to over and over again. The next track, "Collision Blonde," begins slow but soon picks up the pace as the vocalist tells his story.
"(but here we are)," the ninth track, is just made up of spoken vocals and reminds me of La Dispute. There were even some other moments on the album where I got this feeling, but not as strong as I did on "(but here we are)." This song tends to be the one I always want to skip, as it seems to drag on for a little too long and doesn't feel right compared to the rest of the atmosphere in Collision Blonde. The final track, "Nosedive," is an excellent track to bring this album to a close. It takes every new element that Xerxes has brought with this new album and throws it into one track to finish off Collision Blonde.
With a sound being compared to The Cure, Xerxes displays a monumental amount of growth from its previous release. My main gripe is the amount of filler tracks. Three of the 10 tracks don't feel like actual songs. For an album that is only 27 minutes long, 25 per cent of it feels wasted on these bland, lesser tracks. Collision Blonde's best three songs ("Knife", "Chestnut Street" and "Collision Blonde") were all released as singles, so I felt cheated when I finally got the chance to listen to the album in full. Other than that, Collision Blonde is a solid release. Going for a completely different sound was a bold move by Xerxes, but it was pulled off well enough.