This is a review of "Fear is the Enemy" recorded by The Xenith Sound. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
Xenith Sound are all about lovingly recreated classic rock with very meaty guitar lines cutting under Toff Banks' soulful and gutsy voice. Rich Wales's drumming is punchy and precise. Tom Flanagan's guitar rips and roars when needed and there are some fine subterranean bass lines from Phil Dawson. There's a lot of heart in the performance. There are some well placed spacey overdubs too. The meticulous studio work still evokes the feel of fantastic cellar bar live shows. Just watch those thunder flashes! Freak out with the smoke effects! Few UK bands will cook up such an authentic and effective Jacksonville sound. Entry level bands will quake at the onslaught and wish they could Bill-and-Ted themselves back into the rehearsal rooms for a few years. Royal Park Cellars on May 5th will utterly rock.
There is a but ... virtuosity and great production apart I'd be lying if I didn't say that the band are recycling grooves and riffs that were already getting thin in 1982 when Sixth Form discos were all about air guitar to "Freebird" and "Fear the Reaper". There's a fine line between launching your new music from the solid platform of an old genre and devoting your selves to rebuilding the platform. The Xenith Sound seem to be on the brink of crossing it, but they're not there yet. Despite dozens of listens, I'm still struggling to identify the unique Xenith Sound, and I'm itching to get hold of Blue Oyster Cult, Lynard Skynard or AC/DC records to compare and contrast. Modern tricks and embellishments are there, and there is that cool electronica afterthought. But it still sounds old. Maybe the quality of the songs lets it down? They aren't memorable. But when all is said and done ... it has all been done. And when it has been done the only way forward is to do it different or do it better.