By Michael Deeds
XEX takes its heavy metal seriously - maybe a little too
seriously. XEX isn't even a word, "it's a symbol that is as unique as
our music," the Boise trio claims. Whatever the case, "Anything Goes"
is an apt title for what amounts to an ambitious alternative-metal
therapy session. The CD's apocalyptic, spoken-word intro conjures up
laughable images of Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil." But
afterward, XEX blends precise, minimalist bass lines and drumming with
tortured, armored-saint vocals ("You will bow down before me!) and
massively processed, detuned guitar chords, XEX tells a melodramatic
lyrical tale (complete with spooky echoes), executes quirky ax
gear-shifts (from acoustic to skull-compressing) and sneaks in shreddin'
solos. Even when XEX is laughing at itself - check out "Don't Tell
William," a fist-waving adaptation of William Tell's famed overture -
the group delivers with utter density. "Anything Goes" is dark,
deliberate and anvil-heavy, leaving you fatigued, as if you've taken
sledgehammer shots to both shoulders. Feel XEX's pain.