May 2, 2014 Exmortus – Slave To The Sword (Album Review)
Exmortus returned with a vengeance in February 2014, releasing their third full length album Slave To The Sword. The album is their follow-up to Beyond the Fall of Time (2011), and first with new label Prosthetic Records. Hailing from Whittier CA, this Southern Californian phalanx together now over a decade is steamrolling shows left and right with incredible live performances. Recently they completed a massive North American tour with Dark Tranquility, leaving behind the smoldering ruins of venues in major cities.
For founding members, and cousins, Conan Gonzales (guitar/vocals) and Mario Moreno (drummer), heavy metal is a family tradition started early on in their lives. Gonzales credits his uncle for introducing the youngster to heavier music back in the 1990’s when he shredded on guitar in a death metal band. Keeping the chemistry tight and close, even newer band members Jovanni Perez (bass) and David Rivera (guitar) have long standing ties with the pillars of Exmortus, with all of them attending the same high school. Combined with passion and dedication the band ready to make their biggest statement with Slave To The Sword.
Slave To The Sword has been causing severe to fatal whiplash from it’s intense thrashing. Compounding the metal fury of producer Zach Ohren (Immolation, Suffocation, All Shall Perish) provides for excellent dynamics and tones throughout the album. Beautifully brutal, a feat not easily obtained is conquered in this metal masterpiece. Ludwig Van Beethoven would be proud of their cover of his “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)”. The best part about this excellent rendition is it sounds like another one of their songs, a testament to technical proficiency and gripping melody. Slave To The Sword is a bone crushing epic undertaking and a must have for the library of all metal heads alike.
The opening track “Rising” begins the record with a blast, akin to being lit on fire and shot from a cannon. Assuming most listeners are not astronauts, this invokes the closest feeling one will probably ever experience to re-entry from outer space. The songs “Immortality Made Flesh” and “Foe Hammer” highlight the reoccurring battle themes and thrash injected movements featured throughout, embodying a unique blend of neoclassical thrash and death metal. Every single song features impeccable guitar composition and solo duels that will leave your face melted on the floor. Moreno achieves perfect balance smashing the war skins keeping a rock influence of his early days mixed with heart pounding blast beats and thunderous double bass. The album ends like a blacksmith’s finishing strike of the anvil forging a heavy burning sword and will leave you chanting “Metal is King! All Hail the King!”.
While Exmortus started to build fame in the metal world, they are a very grounded group of guys still practicing in the same dusty garage they have for twelve years. Gonzales stated “What drove us, and continues to drive us, is simply our undying passion to jam out together.” Slave To The Sword is cohesive, while at the same time each song is unique in its own metallic way. So many adjectives can be used to describe this piece of music; heavy, melodic, fast, thrash, technical, mean, and most importantly outstanding. Slave To The Sword is a monumental breakthrough in the bands career and destined to be one of the best metal albums of 2014. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.