Exmortus is a band that I’ve long overlooked, and for no real reason either. Seeing as they have a new album out, and they will be opening for Destruction soon, this was the perfect chance to give them a listen. “Slave To The Sword” is very different from what I expected. It’s definitely a thrash album, but it’s so much more. At its core, it’s a guitar player’s album. Throughout the course of the record, both guitarists absolutely dominate. Their soloing is completely pervasive in every aspect of the music. Whether it’s a lead to open a song, harmonized shredding solos, or other harmonized leads under the vocals, there is always something exceptional going on guitarwise. The best way to describe this album is if Yngwie Malmsteen started playing thrash, and then his ego ballooned even further than it already has. This is most prominently displayed in an impressive thrash cover of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, which is a major highlight of the album.
If this record sounds unappealing so far because you are someone who isn’t a huge fan of shredding, “Slave To The Sword” still has plenty else to offer. For one thing, the vocals are rippingly vicious. While still being thrash, there is a clear influence from the death and black metal side of things. This style of singing is so heavy that it makes even the cheesiest of lyrics seem serious. “Metal Is King”, for example, would typically be a bit of a cringe-inducing experience for some, but Exmortus delivers it with so much conviction that you can’t help but bang your head. In addition, because Exmortus loves to shred so much, it means that things are pretty much always flying at high speed. This inevitably leads to plenty of insane riffs when the band holds back on the solos a bit, as shown on the opener, “Rising”. The only major exception to this ridiculous speed is the stomping title-track. It is a pretty mid-paced song, but it is far more riff-driven than the rest of the record, and when the drums kick in for the chorus, there is an undeniably enjoyable groove. Even this song, however, manages to find time for high-tempo thrashing.
“Slave To The Sword” more than just your typical thrash record. It redefines the role of lead guitar in thrash metal in a way that can only further the genre. While it is not technical in the same vein as bands like Coroner or Toxik, it uses the guitars in a way that show homage to the great shred guitarists of the 80’s, as well as modern power metal bands. What makes this so impressive is that Exmortus is the first band I’ve come across to properly integrate this in a thrash metal setting. If you want to be impressed, definitely buy “Slave To The Sword”.
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"Slave To The Sword"
"Warrior Of The Night
"Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)"
"Metal Is King"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott