Oxxo Xoox Namidae 01It doesn’t quite do justice to refer to Öxxö Xööx as a mere band. Reading through their biography documents a total cultural project encompassing not just the music, but art, language and philosophy. It is the veritable definition of the self-satisfaction of an ambitious artist, and a stunning depiction of arrogance. Nonetheless, it is impressive, with a hundreds-strong dictionary of new words, a philosophy centered around the discovery of truth through total life and pain, and a singer-songwriter also credited with “visual design.” To understand the music of Öxxö Xööx one needs to grasp the totality of their endeavor, to attempt to grapple with the minds behind such ideas.

It should come as no surprise that such an enigma involves the artistry of Gautier Serre, the madman behind Igorrr and Corpo-Mente. However, Nämïdäë is captained by frequent collaborator Laurent Lunoir, responsible for the music, lead vocals and as aforementioned, “visual design.” The result is a highly experimental variant of doom metal, difficult to distil down to a few descriptive words. It touches on baroque sounds, with heavy usage of organs and a harpsichord. Ornate synths and programmed instrumentation flesh out the background layers. Lunoir’s vocal diversity peppers the album, ranging from snarls and shouts to croons and chants, bolstered by Laure Le Prunenec’s similarly creative female vox and choral passages.

Oxxo Xoox Namidae 02The upshot is that the music is very dense and complex, and consequently quite inaccessible to the newcomer. Concerted effort is required to unravel and comprehend what’s occurring, as pretty much everything happens at every moment. There are dynamic shifts and breakdowns, but the cacophony of instruments and layers is fatiguing. Opener “Därkäë” exemplifies this, with a multitude of layered instruments and textures, and little logical progression as the song pulses and crashes through its course. The challenging nature of the music is certainly exacerbated by the album being massively over-long at seventy-five minutes, with some tracks which offer nothing beyond what is found elsewhere, such as “Därkäë,” “Dä Ï Lün” and “Ü.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these three are not just my least favorite, but also the longest and most wearisome tracks.

Furthermore, this density supplants clear song-writing and further alienates the listener. It’s like Öxxö Xööx endeavored to use a wide range of sounds, recorded as such and then just clicked randomize on the multitrack recorder. Save for explicit breakdowns and moments of subtlety, it’s difficult to pick out individual layers to appreciate the melodies, allowing songs to bleed together.

If I’ve been negative it’s because there are nuggets of gold in the mountain of excess material. Occupying the mid-point, “Lör” and “Lücï” are both very effective. Unlike much of the rest of the album, in which positive progression and development are foregone in favor of avant-garde disrupted structures, they have more straight-forward momentum. “Lör” slowly layers and builds an early crescendo which repeats progressively more forcefully to the song’s conclusion, utilizing fewer instruments and prioritizing Lunoir’s scream over simple, doomy percussion. It’s the closest thing to a memorable chorus. “Lücï” calmly but assuredly builds an atmospheric introduction, progresses to a climax, then evocatively fades. Most other tracks seem messy and disordered by comparison, sincerely limiting listener identification. A few other individual passages stand out too, like the melodic tremolo-picked riff towards the beginning of “LMDLM” and the xylophone transition into rollicking doom at 1:30 of “Äbÿm.”

Oxxo Xoox Namidae 03

Addressing the production, Nämïdäë commendably uses the ALAC format, ensuring a very rich and detailed sound. However, and I know this is probably the point, the mix is very dense and makes it difficult to pick out individual layers and melodies. Indeed, a superior dynamic range would definitely aid the fatigue which can result from long listening sessions.

Maybe Öxxö Xööx is a little too clever and enigmatic for their own good. Save for the aforementioned examples, overall song-writing falls by the wayside in the presence of their massive sound and complexity. I certainly do appreciate their core style since they are very unique, but more has to be done to convince me that this is not just an esoteric vanity project.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 16-bit ALAC
Label: Blood Music
Websites: ÖxxöXööxOfficial | Facebook.com/ÖxxöXööx
Release Dates: Worldwide: 05.26.2015

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  • Excentric_1307


  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Sounds like Corpo-Mente kicked up to 11, which is no easy feat. Very confusing, the vocals kinda detract from the listening experience for me, especially after hearing the amazing vocal performances from other albums/EPs within Serre’s discography. Still going in my library, however. Any album involving a French man who’s pet chicken was on Japanese national television deserves a place in my heart.

    • sir_c

      Listen to it after some Belgian ales. Does help a lot [/1st hand]

  • Angel R. Suarez

    Is it just me or has this month been getting… REKT? In a bad way.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It’s no early 2015 or even 2014, that’s for sure.

    • Grymm

      Very little has floored me this year.

      When my pick for best album of 2015 came out in the tail end of 2014 in Europe (but January here in the US), there’s something wrong.

      • Angel R. Suarez

        I think Imperial Triumphant has been the biggest hit for me this year. That album is beastly. The guys put on a great show too.

    • JRibeiro

      Obsequiae was awesome.

  • I applaud the self-control to not put umlauts on every vowel in the article though.

  • Andy_0

    If I ever start a company that produces metallic footwear for oxen, I know what name I’m going to use.

    • Soxxen?

    • sir_c

      And don’t forget the gravy

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Not much to add, but nice work here El C. “Esoteric vanity project” is a brilliant descriptor, by the way.

  • Wilhelm

    When your name is scarier than your music, it’s time to back to the blueprints.

    • sir_c

      From the metal ency, their name means make love, not war in their fictional language. “Öxxö xööx” is also “69” in binary code.

  • OzanCan

    I really cannot imagine their live shows. How do the fans shout the band name like? Seriously??

    • Darren

      In my head it’s pronounced ‘Oxo Zooks’. But maybe that’s just me.

  • sir_c

    Actually, when you let your brain soak in a couple of Belgian triple ales @ 9% vol, both the clip and the music make much sense [/plop].

    And besides, a band that reminds me of Pan-Thy-Monium is an instant +1.

  • tomasjacobi

    After having listened to this album everyday for about 8 days now, it has really grown on me and I’m betting this will be one of my favorite albums of the year.
    Vey good review nonetheless.

  • Martin Knap

    for something arguably more convoluted check out Abbey ov Thelema