XINR - Beyond woodward 3/5

Reviewed: 2-6-09


1. Ever present angel
2. Fight the dragon
3. Evil apple
4. Don't tell me no lies
5. In limbo
6. The hills have eyes
7. The ghostly galleon
8. All halows eve
9. The Devil's gone
10. Fall to the prey
11. My revolution
12. Beyond belief: Poem by Tony Saiz
13. XINR
14. Fight the dragon (bonus track)
15. The Devil's gone (bonus track)

I must profess my ignorance, as I did not attend to my research respecting Stormspell Records release of the CD by XINR (pronounced Ex-sinner). I honestly had no idea who they were. I was not familiar with them back in the day, so I took a chance, and ordered the CD blindly. I am, however, very familiar with the Christian classic rock act X-Sinner who are dead ringers for AC/DC and Def Leppard.

I also picked up the thrash act Hellhound from San Francisco, assuming they were the incredible Loudness-like band from Japan, who sound like a killer mix of Metal Lucifer, Satanica, Metal Inquisitor and Galneryus. As expected, the XINR packaging is excellent, with liner notes, explanations, colour photos, and lyrics.

The music is for fans of Cirith Ungol, Manilla road, Trouble (the Metal Blade years), Omen, and their epic style of involved storytelling, and melodious meanderings. The themes for some songs are a bit Christian based, and biased; without becoming too proselytizing. Greek and Italian fans will avariciously devour this band, begging for more.

XINR was formed in Portland, Oregon in 1984, but disbanded in that same year, when gracious guitarist Shaun Tramel and soul screecher Tony Saiz tragically were killed in a fatal motorcycle accident. Guitarist Roger DeCarlo went on to form the heavier cultic Cruella. The final 2 bonus tracks on this CD: "Fight the dragon" and "The Devil's gone" are taken from the Cruella 1989 LP 'Vengeance is mine'.

Anton Joseph "Tony" Saiz has a really unsettling pulsating pitch. Picture Tim Baker's resonation, add a cough and wheeze from Eric Wagner, then just a hint of Mark "The Shark" Shelton, and you get the gist.

The guitar tandem interchanges have a real acidic 70s flair, with a nod to the old-school, in line with pieces of Nazareth, Ted Nugent, the bad apples of Aerosmith, and, of course, Zep and Sabbath. Proto-metal bands like Eden, Banshee, early Metal Church, and Hawaii's Pandemonium also lend to a breath of inspiration. If one is aware of the Christain market, I would also include: Petra, White Heart, Bride, Messiah Prophet, Neon Cross, Judea and Jerusalem.

Lyrically, the songs run the gamut from the myths of the ineffable, the mystical, the magickal, and the mysterious. Although, most of the songs are not too engaging, with an ever present angle of imagery, 6-string crunch, chord adulation, protracted solos, and bellicose bass personifications. Unless epic metal is your handle, you may disconnect, and become easily bored.

XINR already have one foot in hell with their existential sin oracles, but given when these songs were formulated, the style echoes that era of Paradise Lost. Stormspell have done a quality job of updating these ascetic anthems, with a more resilient production; thereby, drawing out more action and intention, on behalf of the musicians.

I enjoy the eerie inflections of "The hills have eyes", the raging wavers of the haunting, ship-shape "Ghost galleon", and the monumental "All hallows eve", which incorporates an unbridled passionate persuasion. The slow brooding instrumental "In limbo" has an Armored Saint guitar quality, but leaves my lost soul lingering in Purgatory.

I honestly prefer Cruella's rendering for "Fight the dragon". "Don't tell me no lies" is gravely guitar laden with hooks, licks, and a promise of agony. The tempter lurks whilst this accolade endures. Haplessly, the annoying poem - "Beyond belief", which also transitioned into a Cruella cut, is ill-proportioned, and unnecessary. This gives way to another tepid instrumental, aptly titled "XINR"; although "INRI" might have been more suggestive, and appropriate.

Overall, this is aged, like a fine vintage wine, and whisper on the wind. I would only consider it essential for fans of Doomsword, Elwing, Airged L'amh and Ironsword. Beyond words, would this really appeal to most thrash fanatics, power metal majestics, or goth-oholics? Perhaps, fellow colleague Kit should have reviewed this one, as he has of late become smitten by doom and gloom?




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