The Pitch: California melodic death and thrash metal band Exmortus follow up the excellent Ride Forth with another solo and riff-heavy new album, The Sound Of Steel, via Prosthetic Records. FFO: Chaos, Amon Amarth, Destroyer 666
What I Like: I was not a longtime Exmortus follower despite the band kicking around for over 15 years now. But when Ride Forth came out in 2016 they earned a new fan. That album is brimming with catchy battle choruses, thrashy riffs, and incredible solos; and thankfully The Sound Of Steel brings all of those elements back to the table. These guys know where their bread gets buttered. Neoclassically-tinged hooks and overall emphasis on serious guitarwork has always been the highlight of Exmortus' sound, and they don't hesitate to keep this front and center despite some lineup changes. Longtime guitarist David Rivera and drummer Mario Mortus have "stepped out" for this album, replaced by Warbringer's Chase Becker and Cody Nunez respectively. While I do sense a slight shift in energy, I wouldn't have otherwise noticed the change. Together, these artists still deliver what they do best led by Jodran's commanding old school snarls and raging guitar harmonies. The fun, albeit cheeseball, throwback heavy metal vocals on "Strength and Honor" don't hurt either.
Critiques: Regarding the "shift in energy," it does impact my overall opinion of the album. I'm not sure if it's the lineup change or just the songs they chose to write this time around, but the end result doesn't have quite the same charm as Ride Forth. Throw on any song from that album and I'm instantly transformed into your stereotypical 80's thrash metal headbanger. But even with the same level of technicality and axe-swinging imagery, something about this outing keeps me at a distance. I don't feel the same gravitational pull, and I'm still scratching my head as to why. Again, the riffs are great, and everyone delivers solid performances... there's simply some missing "je ne sais quoi."
The Verdict: The Sound Of Steel delivers on all of the usual tropes that Exmortus is known for, and longtime fans shouldn't find themselves disappointed. Even so, it's just not quite up to snuff when compared with the last one. I'm hoping that the band regains whatever mojo is missing here next time around, but even so there's plenty to enjoy and I'm sure that these tracks will go over even better live on tour. If you find yourself in West Hollywood, you can catch their record release show tomorrow with Kataklysm.
Flight's Fav's: Feast Of Flesh, Into The Maw Of Hell, Turn The Tide
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it with others to help us grow. You can also like and follow us on the social media of your choice with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and support us on Patreon.