Xerxes – “Collision Blonde” Review

Posted: by Dylan

In many respects, Xerxes sophomore album Collision Blonde is a stark departure from their previous efforts. If this is what we can expect from the future of this band, then I say good riddance. I enjoyed 2012’s Our Home is a Deathbed, but the Louisville, Kentucky band seems to have found its niche with the new album, released on 10/21 through No Sleep Records.

Recorded with new-emo god Evan Weiss, of Into It. Over It. / Pet Symmetry / Their, They’re, There / Stay Ahead of the Weather / a million other projects I probably don’t know about, the album is a more refined presentation of the band’s tone and takes a turn towards the more melodic aspects of hardcore, but it definitely never loses its edge. The opening song I Was Wrong builds up slowly and drops us right into the lap of Criminal, Animal, a song that encapsulates much of the album’s back and forth motives between intensity and introspection. During calmer moments, vocalist Calvin Philley reminds me both of Jordan Dreyer (La Dispute) and Dan Smith (Listener), but as the intensity grows, his emotional intensity is clearly evident in screams more appropriate for comparisons to Jeremy Bolm (Touché Amoré). His lyrics cannot help but draw the focus of the audience as they focus on intensely emotional issues, yet still manage to find relation to the average person.

The songs that stand out the most are Knife and Chestnut Street, as they find the perfect line to tread between hardcore and the more melodic aspects that the band work towards. The instrumentation on the album is often more intricate than past efforts, which really shows on these songs. Electric drums and spoken-word style vocals in Use as Directed and (but here we are) present resting points between the otherwise intense and driving album, though Xerxes make themselves most available to new audiences with the title track, Collision Blonde. It starts to draw on the La Dispute influence a little too heavily for my preference, but still managed to coerce me to nod along with the guitars throughout.

My primary complaint about the album is that it’s too short. With a 28 minute run-time, it’s not particularly quick for a hardcore album, but as I reached the end of the closing song, Nose Dive, I found myself wanting more…so much more. This album shows tremendous development for the band and opens them up to a world of opportunity. Check them out at The FEST (10/31-11/02) or keep an eye out for upcoming tours; they’re an act you’ll definitely want to catch the next time they’re in town.

(6.5 / 10)