OtargosOn reviewing last album Apex Predator by French black metal act Otargos I moaned saying that “attempts at brooding and ritualistic numbers’ simply plod when all we really want them to do is what they do best, go for the throat.” Perhaps they decided that was the case too as they have on the whole taken an about turn here and provided just what I was looking for. The band have unfortunately been missed by me the last couple of times they were in London but I still have fond memories of catching them at The Underworld complete with pulsing green laser lights around the time they released No God, No Satan a doctrine that had them falling foul of tour comrades Watain at the time. Fair play to the band they have stuck to their guns and kept going and seem to be quite prolific at the moment though. Founding member Dagoth has been a culling though by the looks of things, getting a completely new cast list around him since 2013 including a newly indoctrinated guitarist just this year. I can’t say that this hasn’t done them any favours.

A nice meaty ballast and melodic guitar line (with something of a Greek feel about it) leads us in to opener Domanitrix and then everything hones in and explodes. This is more like it and the drumming is particularly effective crafting a ground zero impact as it batters away hell for leather. Dagorth’s rabid rasps spit out the venom and guitars strum along with the pace here at full gallop. It hardly slows down either throughout the album and if you are looking for something to bang your head away for duration you are in the right place here. Melody is thankfully not overlooked and it is rich coating everything in quite a grandiose sheen that’s powerfully atmospheric as an accomplice to the brutality. This doesn’t sound as atypically French as one may expect and indeed at times I find myself comparing to the dark and extreme magnificence of Rotting Christ here. With their nihilistic belief system and shunning of all deities you could hardly expect Otargos to go down the Orthodox route like many of their countrymen. They do inject tracks like ‘The Ruinous Powers’ with plenty of chunky bass grooves and shimmering guitar solos along with the spat out militaristic vocal diatribes and it all melds together very well. Vocals gabble like aliens have taken over their host on ‘Chariots Ov The Godz’ and a slight downturn from the thumping drums allows a brooding majesty to pervade things before they rattle back in. The stomp of ‘Dark Mechanicus’ really stands out sounding quite demonic and deliciously dark as it builds up like a bastard hybrid of the aforementioned RC, SepticFlesh, Behemoth and even Nile, it’s one of those civilisation crumbling sort of tracks as it twists and turns down booby trapped catacombs. It feels with this track they have perfected what they attempted last album but rather than dwelling with it ‘Phase Shifters’ muscles its way in and provides a good rattling bounce as it powers and bustles away, building to a fiery incessant climax.

Xeno Chaos seems like a much more balanced work and one that is particularly well constructed compared to its predecessor. Having given it quite a few spins I have found its tracks tenaciously getting in my head and the volume keep creeping up, exactly what should happen with an album. Xeno Chaos itself is just one of many good tracks found here and hopefully they may well get back on the road to support the album as on strength of this I would be rather silly to miss them again. If you are looking for some good extreme and melodically black stuff you won’t go wrong here, just don’t call Otargos Satanic.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)