Artist: xTexas Chainsawx
Album: State of Filth – EP
Ludicrous. Slamming. Brutality.
It cuts through the bullshit like a chainsaw whose blade is made of smaller chainsaws—no tact, subtlety or smoothness in sight. Just insanity. It practically melts flesh with its infernal, hate-filled style of hectic heaviness before it even touches the listener’s skin, but once it does, there’s nothing left. What was once a listener is a pile of mutilated, smeared and blood-streaked remains. Skin flayed, flesh reduced to stains on the pavement, bone transformed into charred dust—complete and total annihilation. Built upon a foundation of furious misanthropy and driven by intense, borderline sociopathic hatred for the current sociopolitical setting of the world, State of Filth is all of the things mentioned above: non-stop, no-holds-barred, completely crushing and awe-inspiringly absurd aggression. The debut EP from Houston heavy act xTexas Chainsawx, State of Filth, isn’t a careful, tactful or peaceful release by any means: it is violence, distilled straight from the blood of Cain, composed of the same satanic and sinister filth that made up the apple that corrupted Eve, ruining mankind’s proposed chance at eternal life. It is evil, plain and simple; unabashed aggression at its finest, and it will turn even the most experienced enthusiast of heavy music into a sniveling weasel.
There are several bands tearing up 2017 with tremendous technicality, enormous melodies, infusions of jazzy, bouncy progressive undertones—you get the picture. The point is that, yes, those bands are out there, but xTexas Chainsawx aren’t one of them. However, just because these Houston heavyweights aren’t pushing the envelope with prog or technicality doesn’t mean they aren’t pushing the envelope in other ways—namely, brutality. State of Filth is one of the most absurdly aggressive EPs to see the light of day in 2017; utilizing everything from slamming death metal to voracious deathcore to obliterate the listener. Percussionist Jamie Booth defines this, with segments of “Deathwish” and “Dispossessed” sounding like a machine gun with all the blast beat derived insanity, yet “The Butcher” draws heavily from beatdown hardcore elements, using more straightforward percussion to form a foundation for the remainder of the band’s dynamic. Booth lets loose with surreal salvos of incredible percussion, steamrolling the listener beneath his ferocious kick drum and sharp snare while bassist Ez Valdez grooves overhead, oppressing the listener with an onslaught of ludicrous low end filth. Valdez and Booth are an excellent team—energetic and heavy, working as a great jumping off point for guitarists John Jones and Cale King. Jones and King bring the remainder of xTexas Chainsawx to life with a varied display of fretwork. While only minimally technical, the duo opt instead for a more barbaric and brutalizing approach—with “The Butcher,” State of Filth’s lead single, highlighting this. Ever so slightly groovy, Jones and King chug and riff away, taking turns between absurd breakdowns and annihilating, slamming segments to whittle the listener down to nothing. Some tracks—“The Butcher” and “Maniacal”—see eerie leads laced between low, looming chugs, adding a degree of downtempo deathcore familiarity into the mix. Meanwhile, “Dispossessed” is simply ruthless, an amalgam of razor sharp riffs and soul-smothering chugs.
Where xTexas Chainsawx might not be as innovative or ear-catching with their instrumentation as some of their peers, that changes immensely with their vocal effort. Frontman Isiah Wootton is reckless and relentless behind the mic, with a range that demands respect. His grisly, guttural bellows on “Dispossessed” alone are a work of art—while his shrieks on “The Butcher” are equally magnificent. Wootton’s work brings the otherwise solid-but-nothing-spectacular dynamic on State of Filth into a whole new league, with vocals that take the gritty, DIY-esque musical approach and amp them up, making every groove catchier and every slam bordering on prolapse inducing. Lyrically, xTexas Chainsawx offer standard fare; nothing new but also nothing bad—with the biggest draw remaining Wootton’s excellent delivery and how his bellows blend with the putridity of the instrumentation. The very definition of diverse, Wootton is almost solely responsible for the relay value State of Filth boasts.
While I may have made it sound as if Wootton is the only reason xTexas Chainsawx are good, that isn’t true. Fair enough: he is the reason the listener will keep coming back to them, but he is not the only appealing aspect. State of Filth is essentially a fetish tape—if the listener’s fetish is raunchy, remorseless brutality. “Maniacal” is an excellent example, even with the “Counting Worms” esque “arf arf” in there. Fast, pissed, punchy and catchy, “Maniacal” is the archetypal track on xTexas Chainsawx’s debut—it simply has everything going for it, seeing the band in top form, even featuring Hater’s Davide Aroldi as a nice bonus. If you’re willing to put technicality on the back burner and ignore prog for fifteen minutes, then State of Filth is a display of heaviness you can’t miss.
For Fans Of: Filth, Acranius, Ingested, Bodysnatcher
By: Connor Welsh