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The best kept secret in music



By Amy Garrett

Smoke and the stench of cheap beer permeates the air. The stage is lined with the mixture of young and old that only true heavy metal can attract. The hair flies, synchronized head banging and fist thrusting starts, and the crowd emits an occasional guttural growl of appreciation. On stage, the band thrashes about wearing their trademark "wife-beater" shirts and Poncherelli shades. They add flair to the music, but they are certainly not a glam band. They are bringing back the ten-minute metal ballad and the nearly extinct, blistering guitar solo.
When you watch a XEX show it's hard not to have a good time, even if metal isn't your thing. This is because they have used some "gimmicks" as bassist Alfred De Varona put it, some "novelties." The put on a high energy show and the have a "look" because, "nobody else has a 'look'" drummer, Pete Wadams, explains. They really just don't care. They aren't afraid to go all the way. They dress like Hessians with flowing hair, wearing "beaters and shades" - to quote the band's own motto. Several times throughout a XEX show the band will chant, it deep bellow, "Beaters and Shades." It may almost seem like a joke, their revival of heavy metal. That's because they don't get caught up taking themselves too seriously.
They are quite light-hearted, yet they sing songs with the decadent lyrics typical of heavy metal, such as "I pour myself a glass of my pain" from the song titled, "Glass of Pain." They mention children and blood in the same sentence. But that's just the beginning. The scope of their music is actually quite impressive. They have taken several classical songs and transcribed them into the language of death and destruction. Rossini's William Tell Overture becomes "Don't Tell William," probably because he'd roll over in his grave. They do creative things with covers such as "Eye of the Tiger" or the Stones' "Paint It Black" which become sinister and much, much longer. The show stopper is their "T.V. Theme Song Medley" which incorporates the themes from Three's Company, Simon and Simon, Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I.
The band consists of three guys that have been playing together, in some form, since 1987. De Varona met guitarist Bryan Maddox in junior high. After many bands, and many years XEX came along. They were just messing around, getting drunk in the basement, and as De Varona states, "we found ourselves playing shows, even though it wasn't our intention." Now, they are releasing their first album Anything Goes, which is a motto as apt as "Beaters and Shades." Although the album draws heavily from traditional metal influences, the music is complex and varied. They show their versatility with some more acoustic, melodic songs scattered through out. - The Boise Weekly

"Feel XEX's pain."

By Michael Deeds

XEX takes its heavy metal seriously - maybe a little too seriously. XEX isn't even a word, "it's a symbol that is as unique as our music," the Boise trio claims. Whatever the case, "Anything Goes" is an apt title for what amounts to an ambitious alternative-metal therapy session. The CD's apocalyptic, spoken-word intro conjures up laughable images of Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil." But afterward, XEX blends precise, minimalist bass lines and drumming with tortured, armored-saint vocals ("You will bow down before me!) and massively processed, detuned guitar chords, XEX tells a melodramatic lyrical tale (complete with spooky echoes), executes quirky ax gear-shifts (from acoustic to skull-compressing) and sneaks in shreddin' solos. Even when XEX is laughing at itself - check out "Don't Tell William," a fist-waving adaptation of William Tell's famed overture - the group delivers with utter density. "Anything Goes" is dark, deliberate and anvil-heavy, leaving you fatigued, as if you've taken sledgehammer shots to both shoulders. Feel XEX's pain.
- The Idaho Statesman

"Hail XEX!"

By Chip Korslund

XEX’s second cd release entitled Mixed Signals is not your typical doom metal album. What it is: a generous 17, high intensity, emotionally laden tracks - running the gamut, stylistically, from vintage 80s US metal, to thrash, to a darker contemporary metal-with-a-message. While songs like “Breaking of Earth” and “Bathing in Ashes” give the album a strong anti-establishment theme, it is “lightened up” with the tongue-in-cheek gothic darkness of songs like “Grunge Girl in Hell” and instrumental nods to the classical masters in “Wolfgang’s 40” and “Amadeus Jig”. Front man Alf DeVarona has six strings singing, pounding out a complex baseline that drives the band farther and farther down the less traveled paths of contemporary progressive metal. Bryan “Bra” Maddox is a nimble fingered metal avatar throwing out blistering ax licks one minute then drawing the listener into moody, contemplative rhythms the next. Pete Wadams gives it up for the cause on drums, completing the circle and fanning the flames to create an experience forged for the true metal fan. The bands combined contributions on vocals reveal depths of perception hidden in their original lyrics. In short, XEX’s newest album “Mixed Signals” is a visceral sensation conceived, nurtured, and unleashed by heavy metal fans for heavy metal fans. Hail XEX!
- Fan Review

"Mixed Signals"

XEX's disc "Mixed Signals" is at times very heavy, at times emotional, and at times just fun. The song "Get Shit Faced" is particularly amusing. The technicality on this disc waxes and wanes, there is some excellent guitar work, and nice drumming. The vocals from song to song are all over the place in style. Almost every song is different, track 6, "Creature" has double bass, crazy leads, and death vocals with clean(er) parts thrown in. You can feel like you popped in The Mentors one second, Offspring the next, Alice in Chains after that, then Seven Mary Three next. And the list goes on in influences and styles from 80's rock bands to metal bands, 90's grunge to recent rock styles. You can even find classical made metal with songs like track 8, "Wolfgang's 40", and "Amadeus Jig" which are pretty cool and kind of funny.

"Mixed Signals" really is a diverse body of work. "...."

All in all, a trip.
- Darksoul VII


Mixed Signals - 2003. Available at CDBaby.com
Anything Goes - 2002. Available at CDBaby.com
Triad - 2006. Availiable at www.isound.com/xex


Feeling a bit camera shy


Heavy, Eclectic, Progressive, Power Trio.

Since forming in 1997, XEX has carved a distinct path through the Northwest music scene with 3 full length CDs, a supercharged live show, and a unique combination of style and attitude. Characterized by the precise and immediate sound of a 3 piece, XEX’s music defies generic description, owing only to the originality of an uncompromised musical vision. The result is an eclectic blend of harmonic, melodic, and percussive characteristics which are forged into a fusion of progressive rock and aggressive metal.

With new management, a Jagermeister sponsorship, XEX's momentum is at an all time high as they continue forward on their mission to have their music exposed to as many listeners as possible.

For Show Dates and Band Information, visit http://www.xex.cc