Xerxes - Would You Understand? [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Would You Understand? [7-inch] (2013)

No Sleep Records

Xerxes made a few small ripples with their 2012 full-length Our Home is a Deathbed, as it highlighted their knack for creating scream-filled hardcore with notes of cathartic melody, not unlike how bands like Touche Amore and Pianos Become The Teeth have done with success. Problem was, it was clear that the Louisville, Ky. outfit were still working on finding their own voice, and while it might've resonated with superfans of the genre, the record had a certain been-there-done-that quality to more discerning listeners. Would You Understand?, the group's new 7-inch, is a bit of an improvement.

"Grinstead" is a solid enough a-side, with some neat flashes of instrumentation throughout; in particular, the guitar interplay in the verses is interesting, and the percussion–particuarly the bass drum and cymbals–seems to rise and fall in ways that manufacture tension far more effectively than any throaty scream ever could. Xerxes are also able to change tempos rather rapidly without sacrificing momentum, which remains impressive.

The b-side, "Tramadol," is a little moodier: The bass takes the lead, with the vocals more subdued vocals and the guitars more restrained. The screams are less prevalent and more strategic, at least in the verses, which makes them hit that much harder in the chorus. The song is melodic but also inherently dark, calling to mind fellow Louisvillians Coliseum.

While these two songs resonate more than Deathbed, that could be a product of the format change; really, 7-inches are generally the ideal length for screamo and hardcore, and that holds true here. Xerxes could still stand to incorporate some nastier, more unique elements into their songwriting, but they're on the right track.