The Cypher (12XU)
Reviewed by Rachel Rascoe, Fri., Feb. 21, 2020
Group vocals over punk determination lend a sense of chin-up camaraderie, and all three members of Xetas chime in on every track of The Cypher. That makes for a gnarled, adventurous conversation on who really gets to be heard in 2020. Single "The Hierophant" demands "say something," while the following "The Martyr" replies "no one's listening." David Petro's live-wire guitar flashes through hardcore, post-punk, and metal among 10 songs. Like an engaged argument, compositions shift through fiery peaks, tempo slowdowns, and melodic moments of release. Bassist Kana Harris' slick, commanding voice leads a venomous back-and-forth on "The Objector," seething over heavy fuzz: "Your silence reads complicit ... The world is cold when you want justice." Continuing the tarot deck concept of previous LP The Tower, the local group's third album swaps immaterial concepts ("The Gaze") for human archetypes ("The Bystander"). Memorable choruses match this emotive cast of characters most triumphantly – with all voices blazing – on bright finale "The Mariner."