June 18, 2013 - No Sleep
Xerxes' Would You Understand? EP offers two compositions to follow up last year's scrappy full-length, Our Home Is A Deathbed, and the band's evolution is already apparent. If "Grinstead" is the more retrogressive of the pair, it's only because it's raw, unbridled and more faithful to '90s emotional hardcore than anything from that aforementioned LP. But the way this unrelenting effort ratchets up Xerxes' usual intensity is rousing, with a caustic, biting drive that revives that era's special, cacophonous drive more closely than most of the band's brighter contemporaries. However, they've also added a muffled spoken-word angle to their arsenal, where on "Tramadol," which slows the bass-driven tempo to an almost playful, medium-paced vibe, it sort of resembles mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss ca. [A→B] Life. "Tramadol" also seems to drive home a thematic point implied by Would You Understand?'s title: effective communication. While Xerxes appear to be branching out in more than one direction on these tracks, they're laying out their intentions well and delivering them with a more invigorating craftsmanship than ever, hitting that rarely brushed sweet spot between acts like Honeywell and Unwound.