- Courtesy the band’s Facebook page
- Keyboardist, backup vocalist, and live guitarist Rïcïnn (aka Laure Le Prunenec), the torso of drummer Isarnos (aka Thomas Jacquelin), and mastermind and front man Öxxö Xööx (aka Laurent Lunoir)
I know that Öxxö Xööx are an experimental metal band from Dieppe, France, and that their second full-length, Nämïdäë, came out in late May (it gets a vinyl release this month). But I’ve deliberately refrained from digging any further. Rather than learn the sort of mundane biographical details that might humanize these otherworldly musicians—what other groups they’ve played in, what they do at their day jobs—I’ve chosen to preserve, as best I can, the feeling of baffled wonderment I had when I first discovered them a few months ago. And I’ll try to share.
Nämïdäë is histrionic, convoluted death-doom, given a techno-utopian gleam by synthetic harpsichord and pipe organ and an incandescent outer-space choir. But its mood isn’t aspirational or triumphant; the songs’ eccentric riffs and impenetrable time signatures make them feel tangled and conflicted, and the vocals are dominated by gothic muttering, desperate howling, and grandiose declamations.
Like French prog masters Magma, Öxxö Xööx sing in an invented language (though some of their lyrics are in English). Judging from the extensive annotations on their Bandcamp page, they consider the material universe a prison, trapping life in nonlife, and wish to recreate the link between Earth and the celestial world. “It is because we have carnal bodies that we are separated from one another,” they write. “We are all demons coveting the others’ energy to survive. This world is a place of constant war; even our cells are fighting each other.”
If you’re not curious to listen to this album yet, I don’t know what more I can do for you. But if you are, you know which button to press: