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Album Reviews : A Million Dead Birds Laughing – Xen

By on July 26, 2012

Melbourne’s A Million Dead Birds Laughing are one of those bands that are just constantly improving over time. Despite their earlier material already being quite phenomenal, anybody who has seen one of their recent live shows and witnessed the track “Equilibrium” will know that they’re still on their way up. But that song is a few albums away from being recorded; right now, we have Xen.

The band sit somewhere in between technical death metal and grind with a dark and utterly twisted atmosphere, but despite the average track length being around the two minute mark, AMDBL fit an astonishing amount of variety and general quirkiness in their music. After some eerie whistling, “Nest” starts the album off on a speedy note, showing off each musician’s talent from the very beginning. Ben Boyle’s guitar work is technical (in an interesting way) and full of odd flourishes that shouldn’t make sense, and Dean Turner’s drums are simply inhuman. Adam has taken his completely unique vocals to a whole new level, using his arsenal of different screams and cleans in constantly different ways. The music just never sits still.

Where AMDBL really succeed, and the same can be said for their debut Force Fed Enlightenment, is that every single one of their songs has something special about it. Each is as memorable as the next, whether it’s just one particular riff or an extra special vocal performance. “Goliath” stands out with a great contrast in vocal signs and the whole light v dark thing, the mellow half of “Jackal” is a surprisingly beautiful moment in such a chaotic environment, “Quantum” drops the speed back and acts like the epic climax of the album, and “Yeti” finishes with a groovy bass line that you won’t see coming (well, I guess you will now…).

AMDBL are one of the most exciting bands in Australia right now, and Xen captures that. The recording quality is a definite improvement over their debut, with more bass in the mix and the whole thing just sounding that bit thicker and more powerful. And the balance of their many different dimensions is spot-on. Once this goes public, expect to see their name a whole lot more. 9/10


Band: A Million Dead Birds Laughing
Album: Xen
Year: 2012
Genre: Technical death metal/grind
Label: Independent
Origin: Victoria, Australia

Track list:
1. Nest
2. Beast
3. Goliath
4. Terminal
5. Martyr
6. Jackal
7. Hydra
8. King
9. Quantum
10. Ulcer
11. Spirit
12. Xen
13. Yeti
14. Zombie


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.