After seemingly wandering in the wilderness for eight years following the release of their debut album The Apotheosis of Death, the New Zealand band Exordium Mors have returned at last with a new full-length named As Legends Fade and Gods Die, which is now set for release on October 31st by Praetorian Sword Records.
They did break the silence with an electrifying 2019 single called “Surrounded by Serpents“, which is included on the new album, but it’s the combined impact of all seven songs that’s the most powerful reminder of the band’s dazzling (and violent) talents, and proof that they’ve scaled even greater heights on the new record. As the advance press for the album accurately portrays, “Exordium Mors’ sound is akin to a glorious sun burning everything in its sight”.
In the run-up to the album’s release the band led with “A Pyrrhic Sacrament“. That song has a savagely momentous opening and then begins to race on blistering hooves. The snare pops the neck and spits bullets while the riffing convulses and brays, and barbarous vocals shriek and bellow.
Everything moves at a dizzying, high-octane pace, everything calculated to keep your pulse rate up in the red zone, and the riffing brings thrashy chords into play along with plentiful flurries of insectile finger-work.
As if the song couldn’t be more electrifying or dervish-like, the band also throw in a soloing spectacle as a lead-in to one final instrumental storm of vitriol and volatility. And on top of all that, the song’s lyrics are ruthless, enraged, and quite fascinating.
Exordium Mors followed that with “Flesh of the Heathen“, which premiered at Decibel, with an intro by Chris Dick that lauded the album as a further step forward for the band: “Now, bolder, angrier, faster, and considerably more skilled, they’ve found the sweetest of abysses at the nexus of thrash, death, and black metals. Indeed, fans of Melechesh, Impiety, Desaster, and Zemial will certainly discover kinship in the razor-sharp, fast-as-fuck Exordium Mors“.
That song is a delirious riot of maniacal drumming, fast-changing fretwork, and berserk vocals, and further proof of the band’s impressive technical skills, surgically precise execution, and intricate song-craft, but the song also interweaves mood-changing melodies that are sinister and gloomy but also exotic and brazenly imperious, as well as wild soloing that reaches epic heights and clean vocals that have a solemn and sorcerous air.
Perhaps even more so than the first single, “Flesh of the Heathen” also demonstrates just how multi-faceted the new album’s music is. You can indeed hear elements of black, thrash, and death metal, as well as arena-ready classic heavy metal, coupled with the kind of fast stick-shifting that would impress Formula One racers and a nimbleness of execution that’s eye-popping. The clarity of the production makes all that obvious, but the sharpness of the sound doesn’t detract from its take-no-prisoners savagery.
While those two songs were obvious choices for lead-off singles, it’s not as if the other five tracks are also-rans. Far from it. The opener “I Saw Oblivion” is worth hearing just for the alluring bass solo that starts the track — which is the only time you’ll be able to breathe easy during what becomes an exhilarating, head-spinning race. And “Surrounded by Serpents” has lost none of its pulse-pounding, mind-mangling power since its release as a single two years ago.
The overarching impression of the album is that we’ve been spun into an ultra-exuberant madhouse carnival set in an infernal realm, but the band do slow things down in the black-magic opening of “Crown of Dust”, which seems to beckon like wraiths, welcoming us to a wild hunt. There’s also a sense of desperate yearning met by haughty and heartless menace that comes through at times in final track “The Triumphator”.
In truth, it’s a tough album to sum up simply, because every song is a kaleidoscopic adventure, but we return to the feeling that courses through all of them: Yes, the music is sinister, generally unhinged, and frequently violent, but there’s a sense of unchained revelry — joy in execution, joy in expression, joy in the defiance of an outsider — that stands gloriously out front of all else.
We’ll also share these words from the press materials concerning the album’s lyrical themes:
The rabid words spat forth to this music rise from Ancient Roman and Hellenic wisdom forged with Satanism and Nietzschean thought: a parable of disdain against the modern world, against the 21st century morality and ultimately against death itself. Exordium Morsare comprised of men who draw from years of experience in metal, both in New Zealand and in Southeast Asia – life experience that knows that the human condition is the same everywhere and that humanity overall deserves contempt.
“The reckoning of my soul hath liberated me from their path. No man is born equal. No man is born free.”
As Legends Fade and Gods Die was recorded and mixed by Raj Singarajah and Cam Sinclair at Dynamic Rage Studios, New Zealand, and it was mastered by Luke Finlay of Primal Mastering. The fantastic cover art was created by Khaos Diktator Design, and Ross McGuire Design was responsible for the album layout.
Praetorian Sword will release the album on vinyl LP and digital formats.
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