Review: XXI – Inside Out

Artist: XXI
Album: Inside Out
Rating: 10/10

When it comes to pain, nothing is worse than the pain of loss. Whether it of a loved one, someone close or someone who has had any impact or bearing on your life, whatsoever. That’s why when I heard that central KY’s A Feast For Kings would be continuing on under the name XXI after the tragic passing of original vocalist Eric Gentry, I immediately grew fonder of them. It’s an insanely hard thing to keep a band going when you’re as close as the guys in AFFK were. With the name change, they decided to adapt a new sound as well. Beginning with their lyric video for “Say It Again,” they’ve evolved into a hard rock force to be reckoned with. With their debut album Inside Out, they wear their emotions on their sleeves as they write the darkest, deepest and most emotional record of 2015. They’re proving that they’ve got what it takes to continue to make Gentry proud and that begins with the release of Inside Out. With a massive amount of talent, drive, ambition and spirit… they’re back and ready to show the world what they’re made of. With a sound reminiscent of earlier Saosin, Conditions and Anberlin… it’s a bit of a throwback album as well.

It’s no wonder why they chose an anthem like “Say It Again” to open up the album, immediately hitting you with a gratifying feeling that they knew exactly what they were doing, as they continued on. Vocalist Carson Butcher has clearly put everything he has into these lyrics, as the emotion resonates throughout each and every note he sings. Background vocalist/guitarist Seth Weigand and guitarist Jamie King create an amazing dynamic as the rhythm gives way to melody and vice versa in perfect form. Drummer Robbie Barnett keeps perfect time, even despite the incredibly emotional nature of the songs they create. I would be lying if I said tracks like “Counting Me Out” and “Wasn’t Enough” don’t bring tears to my eyes, being a fan of AFFK as well as XXI. It’s clear that late vocalist Gentry is carried by the weight of these tracks and they refused to do it any other way. A sense of spirit, overwhelming emotion and angst lies within each soundwave that flows fluidly through the listener’s ears.

The thing that didn’t surprise me at all is that, even in the album credits, Gentry is listed as “The 5th man.” Proving once and for all that the fact that they’ve continued was to carry on his name in the music that they’ve created. If you want an album that has enough emotion to pull you down, lift you back up and show you that you’re not alone… you need only look to Inside Out. This phenomenal album was released September 18th, 2015 through Tooth & Nail Records. Do yourselves a huge favor and pick a copy up! Check out the lyric video for “Say It Again” below!

Buy Inside Out

“Say It Again” (Official Lyric Video)