Sunday, April 14, 2024

Xilla’s Potential Could be Endless!

Out today, ‘Endless’ the latest single from Birmingham alternative progressive rock act Xilla 

“Endless takes the sound of our previous album Distant Minds and turns everything up to 11,” said guitarist Chris Flanagan. “ At seven minutes long, it is more of an epic track which gave us an opportunity to apply some of our progressive influences.”

That stated, time passes quickly listening to the song. Guitar chords stroke gently, while another six string joins bleeding out lines of anguish. This metal Floydian intro then churning melodiously more towards the distance as vocalist  Leigh Oates moves to the microphone and delivers a song questioning self-worth, integrity, probing philosophical viewpoints in a relatable manner while hinting at broader meta-realities, lines like “Nobody’s worlds are the same” singing of the limitless possibilities, but also bringing it back to the personal, “Endlessly, I wait for you.”

There’s often a bruised emotional allure to Xilla’s works; they’re compelling musical essays for those walking trough life on a tightrope. Some four minutes in, the music takes on a more staccato metal funk fusion section wherein guitarist Greg Pullin injects sonic wailing before returning to the main theme and eventual climax as a clearer-toned guitar plays out, amid the song’s mantra-like chorus.

“For ‘Endless’, I had tonnes of ideas flowing once the first chord progression came to life. I knew the song would head in a drawn-out, epic direction, with a belting chorus and overdrive guitars progressively taking over from the crystal cleans in the intro,” revealed Greg Pullin, further noting, “However, I surprised myself with just how heavy the breakdown section turned out, not to mention the equally filthy guitar solo which I must admit, relied heavily on summoning my inner Dimebag. I like to think he’d enjoy this one.”

‘Endless’ is available now on all streaming platforms clicking this link, and you can check out the official video here at RAMzine.

Xilla has a batch of new music they intend to release as singles this year, if not EPs. Having been privileged to hear an advance listening of some of those, I can vouch that fans will not be disappointed. If anything, there’s a more direct and rockier stance without betraying their fluid musicality. This renewed vigour in their work, admirably demonstrated in their previous single, Like Vultures’.

“A short, concise track at first glance, being three minutes long, but still draws from a lot of influences of ours. ‘Wanted to keep it punchy whilst maintaining our signature Xilla musicality,” Greg Pullin noted concerning the single.

Certainly, it’s a more linear forceful approach than previous releases. Like Vultures’ retains the group’s unease with humanity’s current emotional condition, but is more direct; for while lyrical allegories are used as hook lines, their bolder statement is in proclaiming how external forces feed and profit on our dismay,  creeping paranoias, and general mistrust. Such pressure groups, with their deviant application of social media and real-time small talk, are –  to my mind at least – self-serving  propagandists for their own political, religious, and pharmaceutical company shareholders’ personal gain.

Of course, you may prefer to focus on Chris Flanagan’s guitar solo that ignites slowly from around two-thirds in, and the weaving melodies presented by the band as a hole throughout; rather than my personal prejudices acting as bias to how I treat the words sung by Oates. In fact, you can check out the lyric video for Like Vultures’ yourselves right here at RAMzine.

“One of our more direct songs, first one back for a while, feels good to break out the leather lungs! Big hooks and melodies as always,” commented the vocalist himself.

“We like to push our boundaries in Xilla,” remarked Flanagan, ”and we really wanted to try and create a short punchy track, which is a lot harder than it sounds! We have tried to ramp up the intensity on this one, and listening back to the song, it sounds like we are firing on all cylinders with all our amps turned up to 11!”

Bass player Rich Pullin also revealed the song’s genesis, remarking: “Written on bass, the foundation set… Heavy guitars and belting vocals bring this short but powerful track to life.” The final recording mixed and mastered by John Mitchel at Outhouse Studios (Alter Bridge, Enter Shikari, You Me At Six, Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot, Architects).

Like Vultures’ is available on all online streaming services/stores, by clicking this link.

Xilla was formed in 2012, when brothers Rich and Greg Pullin, on bass and guitar respectively, teamed up with guitarist and BIMM graduate Chris Flanagan, followed by drummer Pete Smyth. Learning their craft from a young age and having played in rock bands since they were teens, they had become well rounded musicians by their early 20s. Thus, armed with an array of musical experience and influences to draw from, they quickly exploited an effortless musical chemistry, and started writing original music with the intention of creating something distinct and utterly memorable.

“We wanted the approachability of a great song, combined with the detail, texture and layers of all the music we enjoy,” the musicians explained.

Having previously joined I Am I, and performed live with vocalist ZP Theart (Dragonforce, Skid Row), the six string Pullin brother was under no illusion as to the calibre of vocalist required to compliment the sound Xilla were naturally creating. The band spent the next few years writing, performing live shows and working with various vocalists, although not quite finding the right fit for the job.

Fast forward to 2018 and with the arrival of frontman Leigh Oates (Order of Voices, Soldierfield, Rise to Addiction), the final piece of the Xilla puzzle was in place, whereby the band agreed their goal: “We had the intention of creating something distinct and utterly memorable.” Thus, that year saw Xilla work tirelessly perfecting and recording their debut album. The band enlisting the help of the aforementioned John Mitchell, who they’ve continued to work with, in his mixing and mastering their recordings.

Released worldwide in March 2019, their debut album, Distant Minds, impressed many, whilst gaining great reviews in prestigious press outlets, such as Prog and Powerplay magazine.

Xilla’s subsequent live performances received equally enthusiastic responses from audiences around the UK, at venues such as the 02 Academy, O2 Institute, Rebellion and KK’s Steel Mill. These events further showcased the band’s notable sound and the ambitious level of musicianship, first demonstrated on the record.

The album was followed up by two new singles in 2020 and 2021, releasing ‘Live Again’ and ‘Cornerstone’, before parting ways with drummer Pete Smyth.

Thereafter, the band continued to write, record and produce new music for release in 2024, recruiting Hugo Ribeiro (Moonspell, Godvlad) as session drummer for subsequent studio recordings. Of which we’ll no doubt read and hear more about in the days to come.

For more about Xilla at RAMzine click here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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