XETAS: The Tower: LP

When opener “The Gaze” winded me within the first ten seconds, I knew that I’d be chasing my breath for the entire record. Xetas, from Austin, Texas, packs the aural wallop of Brat Kings and Pissed Jeans, with vocals sharp enough to cut to the marrow. During “The Tower,” they howl, “There is no exit here,” and the gnarled delivery sends chills down my spine. Their scorching guitar riffs (more hardcore than metal), thunderous basslines, and surgically precise drumming bore into my cerebellum, inducing spastic gyrations and cult-like fervor. The Tower is controlled destruction like watching a derelict building implode (I’m reminded of the urgency and mania of Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade). Xetas brings you right to the cliff’s edge, but you’re safely fastened by their restraint; they never indulge in twinkly interludes or melodrama, instead fueling a rage that lasts for the album’s nearly forty-minute duration. “The Machine,” an equally bleak and poppy closer, encapsulates the trio’s philosophy in its chorus: “Get me off this life support. I’m fine.” At any moment, Xetas might explode—but being within the blast radius is well worth the risk. –Sean Arenas (12XU, 12XU.net)