One of the “big four” of English thrash metal, along with Acid Reign, Onslaught and Sabbat, Preston’s Xentrix are back with their new album, Seven Words.
But where do you start when it comes to their back catalogue and where does Seven Words rank when stacked up against such acknowledged classics as For Whose Advantage? (1990) and Shattered Existence (1989)?
Well, fear not intrepid thrashers. We’ve re-assessed Xentrix’s body of work and done the hard work for you….
6. Scourge (1996)
Scourge is an album that receives a shit-load of flack but Xentrix‘s mid-90’s effort is still an album of merit…..just one that needs to be taken in context!
With the departure of frontman and figurehead Chris Astley, Xentrix faced an uphill battle but Simon Gordon (Kill II This) was installed in his place and Xentrix soldiered on regardless. Admittedly, there’s a groove/rap metal element (a sign of the times unfortunately) to the likes of the title track and “Caught You Living”, but the thundering grooves and throaty holler of Simon Gordon still resulted in an album of mid-tempo thrashers that deserved way better a reception than it received.
Scourge isn’t a bad album by any means, it’s just not a match for Xentrix’s high water marks ….but that’s like saying Testament’s Low is completely without merit just because it’s not The Legacy or Practice What You Preach, which would be a ridiculous assertion! We say give Scourge another go. 5/10
‘kin hell, what happened here?!
5. Kin (1992)
This should have been the big one for the UK’s brightest thrash hopes.
Kin should have been Xentrix‘s Black Album, their Countdown To Extinction, their Ritual.….their genre-defining, mainstream-baiting, sure-fire hit release.
It wasn’t. But it should have been!
“No More Time” may have been a little too maudlin for its own good (although you couldn’t argue with the sentiment) but there was still plenty of crunch and mature thrashing to be found on the likes of “A Friend To You” and the chugging nirvana of “Release”
Everything abut Kin was grander, more opulent and designed for mass consumption but you cannot – should not – ridicule Xentrix for wanting a million selling record under their belt….and in a parallel universe, Kin was that album. 7/10
The comeback was on….
4. Bury The Pain (2019)
Once touted as UK thrash’s answer to Metallica (not quite but bloody close), Xentrix embraced an Americanised sound and their cold, crisp riffing, mid-paced thrashing and Chris Astley’s confident bellow originally elevated them to the upper echelons of the UK thrash scene. The good news is that Xentrix circa 2019 still sounded like Xentrix circa 1990 and their recognisable sound was front and centre throughout…..all be it modernised for today’s audience (and without Chris Astley at the helm).
Bury The Pain exhibited a seamless flow – led by a huge grasp of melody and a penchant for delivering an endless parade of solid, bruising, thrash ditties – and Xentrix’s scintillating combination of Metallica and the UK’s own Onslaught (along with a little Testament thrown in for good measure) truly took flight on “There Will Be Consequences” and “The Red Mist Descends”.
While a lack of diversity may irk some new listeners, it’s clear that Xentrix were by no means playing catch-up with the rest of thrash metal’s renaissance crew and we maintain that Bury The Pain is simply the sound of a tight unit excelling at their own perfected brand of semi-melodic, mostly mid-tempo, kick-ass THRASH! 8/10
3. For Whose Advantage (1990)
Touted as Britain’s answer to Metallica (not quite), Xentrix embraced an Americanised sound which should have seen them rapidly rise to the very top of thrash metal’s ranks.
In reality, their relatively ‘safe’ sound was only ever going to take them so far, and they eventually found themselves lumped in with the plethora of identikit bands who arrived late in the thrash game. Sadly, it’s only with the luxury of hindsight that For Whose Advantage? reveals its true worth and it’s undoubtedly an essential addition to any thrash collection.
Cold, crisp riffing, mid-paced thrashing and Chris Astley’s confident bellow elevated album highlights “Questions?” and “The Bitter End”, and the entire album benefited from a crystal clear production job to rival the genres greats. For Whose Advantage? may tread familiar territory but it’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with reliability – Motörhead and AC/DC built entire careers on it! – and Xentrix were fast becoming Britain’s most consistent band.
Grunge would curtail any further progress as thrash became a dirty word, but for a short while Xentrix appeared to be the one British band who would infiltrate the big leagues. 8/10
A modern UK thrash classic….
2. Seven Words (2022)
As already indicated, 2019’s Bury The Pain was one helluva comeback…. but would Xentrix be able to follow it with an album that proved they were back for the long haul? The answer is simple – of course they fuckin’ could!
While not exactly giving us ‘more of the same’, Seven Words is still instantly recognisable as a Xentrix record…. which is a wonderful thing. At their best, Xentrix have always been a band who deliver muscular yet melodic thrash, blessed by great production and kickass artwork – Seven Words is no exception. This beast has the lot. It barks, it bites, it hits you with indignant fury (“Kill and Protect”), lodges ear-worms in your brain (the title track) and delivers some truly satisfying Bay Area chug (“Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead”).
So far, so familiar, so Xentrix. And yet, there’s something about the quality of the songwriting, and the immediacy of the hooks, that has us ranking Seven Words so highly. This is Xentrix sounding absurdly confident and 100% comfortable in their own skin; ultimately, this has resulted in an album that will find itself at the top of many a ‘best of 2022 thrash’ list in just a few weeks time.
It’s also not a stretch to say that closing track “Anything But The Truth” is one of the most apocalyptic songs in Xentrix‘s considerable arsenal. It’s a monster of a track; a Godzilla-sized, rampaging muthafucker that heralds the end of days. Do they know something we don’t?
You can comfortably rank Seven Words alongside Acid Reign‘s The Age Of Entitlement (2019) and Onslaught‘s Generation Antichrist (2020) as a bonafide modern classic of UK thrash. It’s that damn good. 8.5/10
In support of Seven Words, Xentrix along with Whiplash, Artillery and the mighty Vio-lence hit the road on the European MTV Headbangers Ball Tour starting on 23rd November 2022.
A UK thrash milestone!
1. Shattered Existence (1989)
Xentrix arrived with an almighty bang when Shattered Existence exploded onto the UK thrash scene back in 1989. Here was a band that could go toe-to-toe with the 2nd wave thrash bands from the United States and they were our’s (if you’re British, of course) to savour!
Home to some serious big-thrash-hitters – “No Compromise”, “Crimes”, “Balance of Power” and “Dark Enemy” – Shattered Existence was a winner from the get-go. With Chris Astley’s dry, Chuck Billy-esque bellow, a strong ear for melody and some killer riffs in their arsenal, Xentrix were capable of thrashing as fast as any of their peers while incorporating groove, technicality and a sense of urbanised menace.
For a short while there, Xentrix appeared to be the one British band who would infiltrate the big leagues.
Should. Have. Been. Huge. 9/10