(This is Aleksha McLoughlin‘s review of the new album by the Belarusian band Eximperitus, which was released by Willowtip Records on January 29th.)
Eximperitus are a band who have not only lived up to their hype and mystique but surpassed all expectations on Šahrartu in every way imaginable.
It’s been five long years since the band released their full-length debut, and all that time away has resulted in not a second wasted. On their newest release, Eximperitus have focused on atmospherics, dynamics, and an ingenious use of layering to create music that genuinely sounds as alien as the imagery.
“Utpāda” is absolutely massive. Grandeur is a common theme that runs through the veins of this release, an earth-shattering and mind-altering sense of gravity that’s as magnetic as the force itself. What begins with a straightforward chugging death metal riff is swiftly usurped by something far more insidious; the technicality and swelling voicing of dissonant palm-muted power chords chant in rhythmic unison in a way that’s impossible to deny.
I’m quickly reminded of bands such as Nile and the death metal period of Behemoth (particularly Zos Kia Cultus) with just how oppressive this album can be at times. More impressive than the scope and savagery on display, is how Eximperitus can craft songs as long as 8 and 10 minutes that enthrall constantly and consistently. “Anhûtu” is proof enough of this mantra, especially in how the barbaric guitar riffage that begins the journey is soon joined and entwined with soaring melodies that interlace fluidly with one another.
The production on this album is truly second-to-none. In this age of sharply produced modern death metal records (with the likes of Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation being immediate standouts), it can definitely be argued that Šahrartu easily stands in the league of, if not above, the greats of the genre. The percussion is sharp and responsive; the drum work across the board is exemplary, managing to punch through the sheer thickness of the mix without compromising the low-end space of the down-tuned guitars and bass presence.
Speed and brutality are far from the only aims aspired to by Eximperitus here. While several tracks end in acoustic/clean passages, such as “Tahâdu”, which Islander gave a fantastic write-up for in his premiere last month, and the aforementioned “Utpāda”, it’s the album closer “Riqûtu” that illustrates my point best. There’s no distortion of any kind; no death growls or pounding drums either, merely a solid 3 minutes of reflective and poignant arpeggios that do an incredible job of getting inside your head. It’s these instrumental pieces that meld the experience together in unexpected but welcome ways.
Make no mistake, Šahrartu is a truly spectacular death metal album worthy of the band’s reputation, and one that I intend to continue spinning regularly throughout this year and beyond. I feel as though words can’t adequately capture the profusion of emotions that a record like this can elicit. I speak with minimal hyperbole my unabashed admiration. What else can really be said at this point, other than for me to implore you to hear it for yourselves.