SEEN AND HEARD (PART 2): EXULANSIS, PESTILENGTH, ERADICYST, REMISSION
Lo and behold, I managed to finish the second part of the round-up of new music I began here yesterday. Not a great shock that I couldn’t finish it yesterday; more shocking that I finished it at all. Hope you enjoy what you’ll find here. Musically, it’s pretty diverse.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that when I first listened to the title song of the debut album by Exulansis, which opens the album, I got a lump in my throat and moistness in the eyes. It’s no secret that I tend to have stronger emotional responses to music (and tend to express them more unabashedly) than many people who are (or pretend to be) music critics, mainly because I think of myself more as an enthusiastic fan than a critic. But this song damn near broke my heart. And it turns out that the song continues to have that effect every time I hear it, which means I have to ration how often I turn back to it (simply forgetting about it isn’t an option).
The album, Sequestered Sympathy, was digitally released on October 4th but I didn’t pay attention to it until Transylvanian Tapes announced a cassette release and published their own Bandcamp stream on November 7th. I always try to check out that tape label’s releases because they’ve got such good taste (i.e., their tastes line up very well with mine).
Later, after listening, I found this statement by the band on their FB page when they did the digital release in early October:
“This album was and continues to be our collective exploration of loss, evolving grief, of the inability to save another from their own destruction, of residing on an Earth plagued by the ails of its inhabitants. It is also an expression of gratitude, that we have each other and the privilege to create music in the eyes of our collected image.”
The sorrow conveyed by the title track is unmistakable, and immediate. The slow, soft, haunting reverberations of the guitar and bass at the outset are grief-stricken by themselves, but the music really spears the heart deeply as soon as the soulful weeping of Andrea Morgan‘s violin joins in. That sequence is absolutely beautiful, and could have gone on for minutes longer as far as I’m concerned, but what follows it proves to be even more powerfully wrenching.
The music becomes crushing, though that lonesome melody persists and evolves in searing fashion. The vocals also amplify the song’s emotional intensity by combining deep roars, cauterizing shrieks, and singing that soars. You fall into the music like drifting down through deep, dark waters, but can see the glimmering light shining above. It’s spellbinding, and the spell persists even when the drumming erupts in a pummeling gallop and the rest of the instruments join together in a spectacular, heavenly crescendo. The grandeur in that sound is vast, the splendor in the music simply stunning — and the finale is wild and joyous.
And so — surprise, surprise — the song becomes heart-swelling as well as heart-breaking.
Exulansis continue to pluck the listeners’ heart-strings just as powerfully over the course of the remaining five tracks. They continue to deploy those three voices we heard in the opening track, but often giving each one its own space. The violin performances prove to be just as riveting (and multi-faceted), and the sound just as otherworldly. Along with crushing heaviness, there’s also acoustic picking and folk melody in the mix, contributing to haunting songs that bring to mind backwoods Americana, as well as passages in which piercing guitar tones channel tension and pain. The band continue to prove how adept they are at unearthing your memories of loss and regret, and how skilled they are at both kicking your pulse-rate into racing gear and casting spells of spectral beauty. They’ll pull you down low, and they’ll send you flying into the clouds.
In short, I highly recommend this album. Its beautiful cover art was created by Adam Burke. It was recorded and mixed by Patrick Hills of Earth Tone Studios in Sacramento, and was mastered by Justin Weis of Trakworx. The band are hoping for a vinyl release in the future, and I hope they get their wish.
The next item in this collection creates a jarring contrast with the first one. It’s a song fittingly named “Filthmonolith” from an album entitled eilatik by the death metal band Pestilength, a two-man destroyer who hail from the Basque Country of Spain. It follows the band’s debut EP Demend, which was released in June of this year.
And oh hell yes, it is a filth monolith — corrosive in its guitar tone, maniacally brutal in its drum-blasting, scalding in the acidic, throat-constricted intensity of its vocals, and absolutely vicious at all times. It rips and tears in a frenzy, and pounds without mercy or remorse. There’s an air of ferocious, electrifying lunacy in the onslaught, particularly in the absolutely eye-popping drumwork, but also in the freakishly skittering leads and the seething and clobbering riffs. An absolute thrill-ride through hell!
(Thanks to Rennie of starkweather for peaking my interest in the album with these words: “rampaging death metal attack with strangled vocals, a septic mix of Morbid Angel and Incantation“.)
In July I introduced myself and our readers to Eradicyst, an Ohio-based studio project consisting of vocalist Ryan Boehm and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jake Nicholson. With assistance from drummer Jeff Morrow they’ve been recording and digitally releasing individual singles about every other month since the beginning of this year. The song released in July, “Proximity Tormentor“, was a high-octane rush, with a vocal tandem of savage roars and scorching screams that added elements of wild fury to a performance that came across like a well-oiled demolition machine at work.
Based on that every-other-month release schedule, I was expecting the next Eradicyst song in September, but due to unforeseen delays it wasn’t published until November 7th. But no worries, it kicks so much ass that the extra wait was worth it.
“Nostalgic Psychosis” includes eloquent, bittersweet lyrics about remembrances of past pain and abuse that continue to whisper and haunt us despite a wish to escape them. The beautifully sad piano instrumental that opens the song is in keeping with those themes, but the volcanic eruption that follows is pure rage. The heavyweight riffs, hard-thrusting bass, and punishing drumwork are jolting, but Nicholson also turns his guitar into a vicious cutting machine. Nevertheless, intertwined with the massive grooves and berserker fretwork are threads of melody that bring melancholy back to the surface — and the song further includes a pair of spectacular guitar solos, as well as a reprise of the extreme two-toned vocal intensity witnessed in the previous singles.
I’m not sure what the schedule is likely to be for the next song, but these dudes are so damned good that I’ll be eager to hear it no matter how long it takes.
This song and the other singles released so far are “name your price” downloads at Bandcamp.
To close this collection I have a new video for the title track to the mammoth debut album (11 tracks and 53 minutes) by the Australian melodic death metal group Remission (based in Perth). Its name is The Tether’s End and it’s due for release on November 15th. The band’s music has been described as a “fierce and pummelling mixture of crushing thrash and melodic death-metal in the vein of Sylosis and The Black Dahlia Murder“, a description the band have embraced.
Is there anything new under the Melodic Death Metal sun? Well, I’m not sure there is, but that doesn’t mean songs as good as this one should be brushed off. What makes this one so enjoyable? In no particular order, I’d name: the explosive tone of Lewis Oliver’s tom drums and his use of them in creating electrifying progressions; the mystical beauty and darting vibrancy of Curt Everett‘s guitar arpeggios; the equally vibrant pulse of Josh Vaile‘s basswork; the passion behind guitarist/vocalist Jacson Robb‘s raw howls and shrieks; the adrenaline rush of Robb‘s guitar solo; and the band’s alluring integration of thrashy gallops, vicious boiling riffs, jolting fretwork, and melodies that are both gloomy and soaring.
I’m not sure how The Tether’s End will be released, but if you check these links on or after November 15th I presume you’ll find out.
(Thanks to my NCS comrade TheMadIsraeli for turning me on to this video.)
Thank you for recommending Exulansis. It is a beautiful, yet sorrowful album, and a pretty impressive effort considering it’s a debut. Reminds me of Altars of Grief in slower moments, but then gets more violent than they’ve even been.
It is indeed very impressive, very multi-faceted (as you note), and I’m glad you’re into it.
I was gonna message you about EXULANSIS but life got in the way.It’s one of my faves for end of the year. Such an amazing piece of work. Glad you posted it. Hails & Horns \m/\m/
The next Eradicyst single will be a cover song. See you in December.