Metal Blade [Release date 29.01.16]
Old fashion thrashin’. It can’t be put more simply than that. Exumer released both “Possessed by Fire” and “Rising from the Sea” at the height of thrash’s popularity, the 80s. This is a band that typifies the thrash metal genre.
You could say they’re textbook but it’s more fair to say they are a band who helped write the book, with the band splitting in ’91 it may have been the end for some. However fans had to wait 10 years for their next sighting of the band who played Wacken Open Air festival in Northern Germany. This was the band’s only appearance from 1991 until they were reformed by lead vocalist Mem. V Stein and guitarist Ray Mensh in 2008.
The band post extended hiatus released their third album “Fire and Damnation” which was widely praised. This further helped the band gain the cult status they now boast. “The Raging Tides”, released January 29th is the bands 4th studio album in their 30 year history and is already looking promising for the German outfit.
“The Raging Tides” upon first listening is an all out thrash artillery. The album opens with it’s title track and introduces a typically thrash riff reminiscent of older Slayer material. The song as a whole has an explosive element to it, rocking between heavier crunches and more a more melodic chorus guitar wise. Throughout the entire song however, the vocals are unrelentless. The only rest for Stein is the solo which erupts into life around halfway through the song.
Another highlight of the album is “Catatonic”, a song which opens on a more melodic guitar riff and allows the vocals to slide in perfectly. The song vocally typifies the band’s focus with this album, based largely around human suffering.
Stein stated it is suffering “caused by torture or other means for political, religious, or personal gain for the individuals/organizations who inflict the pain.” The band have set out to make a point with this album and with such a harsh sound it does so very well.
“Welcome to Hellfire” is a song which particularly focuses on extreme cases of human abuse within Nigeria. It’s things like this that show Exumer are more than a band who are here to stand up and play some metal. It proves to us that they are a cultured, educated band out to point the finger at the things that are wrong in the world, an art lost on most modern day songwriters. This point is again further proven in “Brand of Evil” with the lyrics focused around Amnesty International reports on conditions in prisons.
Stein commented “These topics are obviously not born from a vacuum, rather they are essentially a constant in daily lives in 2015, both by way of the modern 24 hour news cycle, and document leaks and controversy via WikiLeaks or figures like Edward Snowden. ” Then adding, “The lyrics I wrote were inspired by a wide range of books and articles I read, ranging from the investigation of tactics employed by the CIA, to Amnesty International reports on conditions in prisons, and in Nigeria with extreme forms of human abuse.”
The track “Shadow Walker” is further testament to the bands sense of awareness of the world around it, focusing on those who abandon promising lives to chase radical ideologies often fatally, only to be deceived by those they follow for larger political and personal gain.
Another song which stands out in particular from this album is “Sinister Souls” which opens up on a very thrashy, very aggressive riff. This song is heavily driven by Stein’s vocals who at times continues a back and forward between himself and Mensh on guitar.
The song eventually erupts into an impressive solo from Mensh which cuts between a riff and more intricate note work. It is songs such as this that propel this album higher and higher and sets it apart from other current thrash albums.
For me though, the best track on the record comes towards the end, “Death Factory” encapsulates what thrash is about. From violent lyrics and an equally as foreboding title coupled with aggressive riffs and scolding vocals this song is a cut above the rest. This is an early contender for my song of 2016.
This album as a whole is for sure something you would expect from an 80′s thrash band, but is that ever a bad thing? An album which stands for the traditional values of a genre when it was arguably in its prime.
It shouldn’t surprise many that a band as experienced as Exumer are, are now making a serious assault on the thrash genre. It has been a good time for the band to write as they have had less pressure and more time to write which has allowed the band time to loosen up and creatively explore their music in order to develop the wonderful piece they have.
This album is without a doubt the best Exumer album to date and will likely further push the cult status of the band and even further to the forefront of the European music scene. ****½
Review by Dillon Grant
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