I can honestly say that going into the first listening of this band, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The minimal promo packaging didn’t provide me much information outside of the album art, the tracklist, some contact info, and a photo of the band. Seeing them all dolled up in black with a form of corpse paint, and some bulletwear for good measure, I anticipated something in the realm of black metal. Brief research shows that Frances’ Otargos is, in many ways, following the path created by Polish titans, Behemoth. It seems the early days they went the more traditional grim black metal. As time went along the band grew more comfortable with their instruments and matured in their sound. Now, especially with Xeno Kaos, they are fully entrenched in the subgenre of the “blackened death metal” sound that is quickly expanding into a genre all its own.

While the previously mentioned Behemoth has kind of gone off the deep end with incorporating elements of completely different genres, turning their songs into orchestrations rather than just simple songs, Otargos keeps it more tightly reigned in. Aside from the black and death metal mixture, leaning heavier towards the latter, the Frenchmen have a definite connection to the industrial world. Subtle hints musically and major hints lyrically, Otargos gives me a lot of reminders of Zyklon, which is much appreciated since I haven’t even thought about that awesome band in years. The album kind of comes out like a wrecking ball with the opening two tracks. Speedy tremolo picking with crunchy distortion with both blast and groovy heavy sections accompanied by deep yet smokey sounding vocals. It sounds like a cybernetic demon has his own soundtrack for his charge to come end your life. As much as artillery fire like speedy songs really get the blood flowing, it’s songs like Chariots Ov The Godz, Dark Mechanicus, and Realm Of The Dead that really make this album stand out for me. These are slower and utilize that tone and distortion much better than its speedy companions. It’s in these songs that they start to showcase their musicianship as these songs in particular have more melody and are layered much better than the rest resulting in megaton interruptions in the course started by the opener and finished in the last track. If there were tracks I had to select right off the bat to try to win over new fans for the band, these would be it.

As I said in the beginning, it appears that Otargos has done quite a lot of growing over the years. Naturally, starting out feet first in the black metal world you’d expect tons of songs about Satan and all other elements associated with hell. As time has worn on, it appears they have branched out to discuss other topics that interest them. Most of this record seems to deal with topics like quantum physics and technology. Don’t get me wrong, Xeno Koas definitely has its fair share of god hating but it’s nice to see a band of this ilk take on something different. There aren’t a lot, that I’m aware of, that take on the futuristic ideas quite like this.

When it’s all said and done, I have found another record that will continue to get a lot of play from me. Lots of bands have come across my lap that have been cut from the same cloth but fail to even come close to hitting the mark of bands like Belphagor, Behemoth, and Vader. It’s nice to be swept off my feet by something new, even if the band has been around for quite awhile. Based on research I did for this album, I’m hearing that this is a step back from their last record which has me supremely interested in checking that out now. Xeno Kaos has been out for a few months now so go find it and enjoy the auditory onslaught.