Here’s a soapbox gripe and grievance: When promethean Norwegian Black Metal gods Mayhem played at Mavericks last November, the crowd size was not unlike a Boo 2! A Madea Halloween trading card convention, held in the parking lot of the shuttered and decrepit Circuit City in Orange Park. I mean that in a bad way.
Which is baffling, as Jacksonville has arguably one of the most potent and intense metal communities of the Southeast. So if the three dudes from new metal trio XAEUS weren’t at that Mayhem gig, there is no God (of Hooves and Horns.) Regardless, their Bandcamp page boasts a recent EP with three severely good tracks. “Erishkegal Victory,” “Necrosis,” and “Ingurgitate the Idols” all open with death-tolling, ambient feedback that bleed out into malevolent stomps; the latter cut shifts into a precise, black metal blast/D-beat, and these songs are greased up with (almost required) guttural, “Cookie Monster” growling vocals.
Like much black metal, XAEUS are painting with two colors: black and white. But when the band lights another bonfire on the reliquary and goes “gray”? Buckle up, little pup.