Nobody would blame you if after one listen you put Sorxe into the pile with the rest of the many Neurosis imitators. Once you get past that inclination to pigeonhole and spend a little more time with their upcoming album Matter & Void, you find a band that caters to cathartic extremes deftly and does much more than just rehash whatever Isis was doing a decade ago.

It’s also a big step from 2014’s Surrounded by Shadows and a three-song debut EP called Realms that preceded it. The Phoenix group’s self-released material is competent but less confident. Tracks such as “Creeper Beast,” which grinds with an almost death metal-like intensity, “Join Us” with Gothic tremors, moody synths, and a shockingly not off-putting nümetal stomp, and inspiring prog-metal “Smoke Signals” are all impressive. The band was still a work in progress. They attempted and shelved ideas, creating a frustrating inconsistency and a feeling that they'd like to play to their strengths but were unable to figure out what they were.

Just in time to reach a larger audience through Prosthetic Records, Matter & Void shows that Sorxe has done just that.

The band utilizes two bass players, and it’s not just a gimmick. Having both Christopher Coons and Jonathan Portnoy lock down the low-end in tandem creates plundering doomscapes that drive the material and make it truly heavy. It also means that guitarist Tanner Crace isn’t responsible for all the riffs. Although he can churn out some catchy chords – witness opening track “Hypnotizer” – this delegation of duties affords him the freedom to do more than just riff.

This is especially evident on “Never to See,” where effacing keys and clean, twisting guitar conjure up the same moods Voivod did when they were at their Syd Barrett-worshipping best. The track seamlessly melts into “Black Water,” which slowly ratchets up the tension, sounding like Mastodon playing from inside a lava lamp.

Album closer “The Endless Chasm” is where Sorxe truly comes into its own. Drummer Shane Ocell’s tribal blasts percuss beneath Middle Eastern mysticism and the mook metal tendencies of the band’s past, coalescing into something out of Maynard Keenan’s most melodramatic moments. For nearly nine-and-a-half minutes it undulates like a roller coaster that careens wildly but never leaves the track, leaving you gasping for air when the ride finally ends.

Sorxe’s post-psych is simultaneously violent and beautiful, a distorted dystopia. If their live shows match the fervor of Matter & Void, there’s no telling how far this band can go.

-- Brian O’Neill



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