2 metal reviews from my bud Dave Yarwood
Sorry about uploading these nearly 5 months after receiving them Dave, but I did it, finally. They are very good. Well done.
Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition
Exhibit B is the eagerly awaited new album from original heavy metal thrashers Exodus. Exodus were one of the first groups to reform following the metal renaissance of the last 10 years. Megadeth may tinker with their sound, whilst Anthrax continue to change singers and Slayer fail to rediscover the popularity of old (not to mention Metallica’s struggle to escape their own franchise), the releases of ‘Tempo of the Damned’, ‘Shovel Headed Kill Machine’, and ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ have established Exodus as probably the most consistent and revered heavy metal force of today. Exhibit B is also the first album for some time for which Exodus have had a completely unchanged line up from album to album (barring the re-release of ‘Bonded By Blood’), and so anticipation for this release could not have been higher.
The weight of expectation is evident as all the songs demonstrate excellent technical ability, expansive themes and lyrics, and overall heaviness. So why oh why am I struggling to find anything truly memorable or a riff that sticks with me? Songs such as ‘Scar Spangled Banner’, ‘Deathamphetamine’ and ‘Children of a Worthless God’ have characterised previous releases through an inescapable catchiness that made the listener intent on simultaneous mayhem and destruction. For all its efforts and power, this album just seems to lack a track that fully stands out above the rest. Don’t get me wrong, Exodus have created a stunning album, full of individual brilliance but incredibly it is NOT greater than the sum of its parts!
Dukes’ fantastic effect on the band since joining has been undeniable, and both his and Holt’s lyrics are some of their most impressive yet. Though it may be an act of metal heresy to say it, the songs are just too long . While ‘The Sun is My Destroyer’ does take Exodus into some slower, more ominous territory, it is a classic of example of a song that could have made much more of a punch if it had been 3 minutes shorter – like many of those here. Based on recent form I didn’t think it was possible that you could have too much Exosud, but this time Exodus don’t quite come with their A game.
Perhaps final track ‘Good Riddance’ could be that single-worthy song we have been waiting for? It certainly has their trademarked car-crashing, moshability factor but it comes just too late in the day – at a point where the listener is ultimately disinterested and frankly exhausted from almost an hour of aural assault and battery.
This is probably an album that deserves a 7 out of 10 rating but feels like a 6 out of 10 because you’re still waiting for the damn thing to happen. You will want to replay it but only after you’ve revisited all their recent albums again first. If you’re looking for a way into Exodus – try their live DVD release ‘Shovel Headed Tour Machine’ instead.
Triptykon – Eparisera Daimones
To the unprepared metal fan Triptykon would appear to be the side project of Celtic Frost frontman, Tom Gabriel Warrior – that is until you open the excellent presentation booklet for ‘Eparistera Daimones’ and reveal the retributions and accusations that lie within: Celtic Frost are no more and Warrior lays the blame firmly at the feet of his former partners. This departure has created a chimera of an album in Eparistera Daimones – 50% written for Celtic Frost and 50% written against and in spite of them! One must think his new band members have a high degree of tolerance; Warrior insists Celtic Frost is dead and yet his liner notes mention the group in every song!
So does Triptykon’s music distinguish itself sufficiently against Warrior’s former project? The answer: yes – but its not as simple as that. The album could really be called ‘Monotheist II’ – but in this case it sounds a project fully realised. Opening track ‘Goetia’ is an 11 minute masterpiece that sounds like a realised album in its own right. You feel there is a real threat that they have dropped their payload too early, yet ‘Abyss Within My Soul’ thankfully ensures that no momentum is lost. For the majority, the guitar sound retains the droning, cathartic doom noise from ‘Monotheist’ but the tempo changes are much more satisfying, giving the rapid parts greater emphasis – ‘A Thousand Lies’ especially. The piano in ‘Myopic Empire’ and the female vocals of Simone Vollenweider in ‘My Pain’ could easily pose a risk to a project such as this –and Warrior is at pains to point out their prior rejection by Celtic Frost- but these elements only enhance the haunting, brink-of-the-abyss atmosphere.
New bite and revenge drips from Warrior’s every word – and you know he means it. More than once his bleak subject matters and metaphors seem to cross reference the dissolutions with his former band “I’ve conceived you, I’ve destroyed you, you were stillborn inside of me”. His vocal range has always been narrow but in recent years this has reduced even more, which could put some listeners off. There’s little change here and he still sounds like a decrepit zombie, but could there be more meaning to it? Perhaps he is answering those who would write him off following the demise of Celtic Frost by becoming the embodiment of the undead – risen again for sonic revenge?
Final track ‘The Prolonging’ is exactly that- too long, and to the album’s detriment. At over 20 minutes, it really isn’t needed and despite some catchy parts and a declarative 5 minute ride out with Warrior declaring “As you perish, I shall live” (guess who), the attention slips from an otherwise engaging album.
Eparistera Daimones’ harsh direction and sound means that it will never achieve the wider popularity of Celtic Frost efforts ‘To Mega Therion’ and ‘Into The Pandemonium’ – which its sublime cover art (Vlad Tepes by HR Giger) harks back to. For fans of extreme metal and doom however, it is a work indebteted to the final days of Celtic Frost and an exciting prospect should Triptykon choose to follow these dark pastures further.