Their first full-length, Our Home Is A Deathbed, saw Xerxes following much in the wakes of their peers, such as Touche Amore or Pianos Become the Teeth. They played an atmospheric screamo-influenced brand of hardcore, with most of their songs falling around the one and a half minute mark, with the occasional post-rock build, with guttural screams dotting every few seconds. Last year’s two-song Would You Understand? build upon that foundation, featuring longer and more intricate compositions, more creative song structures, and even clean vocals.
Now Xerxes are gearing up to release Collision Blonde, which builds even further upon the palette laid down by Would You Understand? The band stretches their sound into new and completely unexpected forms, like the Cure-influenced one-two-punch of “Chestnut Street” and the title track. Clean vocals become more commonplace on this album, and they’re quite good, as one might not expect based on the ferocity of the screams.
“(But here we are)” is likely the song most outside of Xerxes’ wheelhouse. It’s the softest track the band’s ever recorded, and, at three minutes and nine seconds, one of the longest on the album. All the lyrics are entirely spoken, sort of like something off of the latest La Dispute record. More than a real song, it’s a story, an interlude, an introduction to the album’s closing act. It ends with the recollection of words spoken by an old love: “”But here we are,’ she says.” Then it ends, and the album descends again. “Nosedive” is the climactic finale to Collision Blonde, and at four and a half minutes, the longest song in Xerxes’ discography – an epic if they’ve ever written one. It starts off pretty subdued – or as subdued as a hardcore song can be – then goes into a two-minute crescendo of propulsive cymbals and screams of “Can’t make it stop” stumbling over one another until it somehow becomes a cry for help: “Just make it stop.” Collision Blonde was described as “a lyrical wreck driven by love, drugs, and depression,” and on “Nosedive,” the band jumps straight into all three. It’s a track that’ll shake any listener, and the band’s most accomplished song to date. Collision Blonde finds Xerxes in a better place than ever before and, with luck, with catapult them to the upper reaches of the hardcore scene.