A Million Dead Birds Laughing - Xen (Welkin Records)

Kill your granny to get a copy...
Release Date: 
31 Jul 2012 - 11:30pm

As a tired and jaded journo (musical and other) to hear something like Xen is akin to spotting a technicolour life raft after drifting in a grey ocean of 'same same'; I fucking love it.
Melbourne's A Million Dead Birds Laughing have followed up their debut album Force Fed Enlightenment with another blinder of an album. It's an album with character and integrity yet manages to avoid disappearing up its own artistic arsehole, which can only be a good thing. Nest opens the album with some mad vocal stylings - throat singing/Buddhist chants? But vocalist AZ is not one to be pigeonholed - the vocals are varied and immediately jump all over the place - the track whips by and is over before you know what's happening. And the whole album's a lot like that; Beast flicks between the absolutely mental and the absolutely catchy - what are these strange fellows? Experimental Grindcore? Technical Death Metal? Despite my intense dislike for labels, I'd have to opt for the latter; drummer DT, guitarist BB and bassist SA are united into a single force of musical genius, and what makes this album stand out is the fact that everything track is so fucking interesting. Combine that delighful musical prowess with AZ's roaming vocal style and you can't go wrong.
Tracks like Goliath tick all the 'spastic runs on the guitar' boxes (there's some great spoken word mashed into screaming intensity too); the track slows down midway and puts out some juicy fat riffage too. The schizophrenic ramblings of Terminal where there's so much going on; so many voices...AZ's a man with a huge range and he's not afraid to go off and explore what his throat is capable of. I'm reminded of a sea-shanty at some point. Say what?! I want to give the production a non-sexual cuddle because it is spot on. Admittedly I would have liked some more bass but what the hell, the twinkling ambient breaks are more than capable of highlighting the nutty stuff all the more. Again, Hydra demonstrates this band's beautiful musicanship - the tracks are just slipping by, which for me is a sure sign that an album is working well. The jauntiness of Ulcer and the catchiness of Spirit. Fuck! It's just an amazing album that engages the listener with interesting and original music. And the drumming on King is unholy. Title track Xen is beautifully dischordant, to quote a poet 'like broken teeth in the face of a young girl'. It's dark and lovely; triple ticks to the guitars - and finally on Yeti (the longest track on here at 3m 52s) the bass gets to shine alongside a sexy, sexy guitar solo. To pick a favourite track would be like asking a parent to pick a favourite child. And I won't do it.
You must get a copy of this album. Tweventy stars out of Eleventeen.