Exmortus – The Sound Of Steel

Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor/label [URL]: https://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: https://exmortus-official.bandcamp.com/album/the-sound-of-steel
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/exmortusofficial/


Band Line-up:

Jadran ‘Conan’ Gonzalez – Vocals/Guitar
Chase Becker – Guitar
Phillip Cody Nuñez – Bass
Carlos Cruz – Drums

Tracklisting:

1. Make Haste
2. Feast of Flesh
3. Into The Maw of Hell
4. To The Ends of the Earth
5. A Minor Instrumental
6. Strength and Honor
7. Turn The Tide
8. Tempest
9. Riders of Doom
10. Victory or Death!

Review:

Exmortus are Los Angeles based neo-classical shredders, founded by guitarist and singer Jadran ‘Conan’ Gonzales. They have appeared in a Virgin Mobile TV commercial, they have been played constantly on Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal and have even appeared on the first Ozzfest meets Knotfest. Sound impressive? Well their new 5th album ‘The Sound of Steel’ is what the band are most proud of, it being more personal than their previous works. Their first LP ‘In Hatred’s Flame’ was released in 2008 when Conan was just 18 years old, and even that created a lot of buzz.

What’s this music like? It’s a shred metal fan’s dream, it really is. The more than plentiful guitar solos are spectacular, without being tasteless. They sound like a mix of Paul Gilbert and Yngwie Malmsteen (when he’s on a very good day) and they’re as crisp and cleanly executed as f&%k. The way the two guitars interact with each other and the bass, often independently is so satisfying. This is really well thought out stuff that has genuine classical theory behind it, it’s not as if unembellished bach-like pedal tones are thrown in every now and then without much reasoning to them. However, that’s not to say power chords that don’t follow the traditional rules of voice leading aren’t thrown in. Far from it, this stuff rocks hard.

What’s also interesting are the fusions of thrash and death metal genres in the music. The guitar riffs sometimes locked in with the repeating snare drum are very modern metal. Evidently, this isn’t rehashed Racer X music, this takes neo-classical music in a new direction, for the most part. The instrumental ‘Tempest’ whilst more traditional is perhaps better than anything Yngwie Malmsteen has done, when it comes to the lead lines, anyway. However, despite the many many pros the songwriting in this record isn’t quite perfect. Guitar riffs and melodies often have a predictable scalic and sequential nature to them. They may be fun and even superior to many, but they are still somewhat of a cliche and get a little tiresome. Having said that, even Mozart liked more simple concepts from time to time, just not as much.

In conclusion, if you always loved the shred genre, but not so much the common uncreativity in the riffs and especially the lead lines, (relative to Exmortus that is), this album is most definitely for you. The growled vocals will likely be divisive, especially in this classical heavy material. However, the band should be credited for being more modern. Is this album worth buying? Without a doubt, yes! In fact I shall be getting a physical copy for my birthday. I would have absolutely loved to have had this album as a teenager when I was really into playing rock guitar, and I still want it now!

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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