Review: Exmortus – The Sound of Steel

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Looking over the band’s song titles and album covers, one could be forgiven for assuming that Exmortus is a power metal band. Even in sound, the band seems to proudly wear the same influences as their European power metal counterparts. Despite appearances, Exmortus has always maintained thrash metal as the primary element to their sound. This year Exmortus returns with a new album called The Sound of Steel, from Prosthetic Records, which proudly showcases Exmortus unique blend of neoclassical and thrash metal.

Leading off the album is the song “Make Haste”, a song which is a suitable introduction into Exmortus’ sound for the unfamiliar. This song gallops along quickly with heavy doses of neoclassical guitar flair.

Following on the heels of “Make Haste” is “Feast of Flesh.” An aggressive drumbeat and a driving guitar riff push this song forward, as most of the neoclassical influences fall by the wayside except for one guitar solo. As “Feast of Flesh” ends, the listener is brought “Into the Maw of Hell”. A song which sheds the speed of the previous two tracks and focuses taking the listener on a journey into hell. While this track does at times have an Iced Earth vibe to it, it never feels like a copycat.

As we approach midway into the album, we are taken “To the Ends of the Earth”. Just like the first track on the album, “To the Ends of the Earth” is a great showcase of Exmortus’ distinct mix of thrash and neoclassical metal. Concluding the first half of the album is a track called “A Minor Instrumental”. As one might guess, this track is just a short instrumental track where the band has a little fun while seguing into the second half of the album.

Beginning the second half of the album is “Strength and Honor”. Following in the formula established in the first half of the album, it doesn’t offer anything new except for the inclusion of some high pitched vocals alongside Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez usual growls. These more high pitched vocals are more of a distraction than a valued addition to the song and I can’t really understand the necessity of their inclusion.

“Turn the Tide” comes in as the album’s seventh track and seems to be a simple rehashing of the album’s first song, except for a change in lyrics and song title. The next track on the album is “Tempest” a captivating and headbanging rendition of one Beethoven’s compositions. This is easily one of my favorite moments on the album as it retains a certain Yngwie Malmsteen feel to it, without feeling like a purely guitar driven affair as the bass perfectly complements the mesmerizing guitar work.

Concluding the album are the tracks “Riders of Doom” and “Victory or Death”. “Riders of Doom” starts with a chant of “Doom”, which I imagine will make it a staple in upcoming live sets for the band. The song builds up slowly on top of this chant, with a simple guitar riff leading the way, very reminiscent of Amon Amarth at times.  The epic, and quest like vibe of the song remain until its very end. Closing out the album is “Victory or Death”, a fast and exuberant song which concludes the album the same way it opened, in speeding gallop followed by a full on thrash attack.

Overall, The Sound of Steel is a solid effort from Exmortus. While the band may not have reinvented themselves with this album, there isn’t a need to. Exmortus has found their sound of neoclassical mixed with thrash and they’re developing that sound. The only problems I have with this album is the inclusion of “A Minor Instrumental” and the use of high pitched vocals on “Strength and Honor”. “A Minor instrumental’ seems to serve no purpose except as a segue on the album. This could have been just as easily accomplished by moving up “Tempest” in the album’s track listing. As for the high pitched vocals on “Strength and Honor” they just don’t seem to fit on this track, and is more of a distraction than anything. Despite the occasional misstep this album is 4.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5.

You can check out Exmortus by visiting their Facebook page or heading over to their Bandcamp, where you can stream and purchase their music.

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