I’ve been flying the flag for EXMORTUS since late 2013/early 2014 when I first got into them. Over the course of four albums they have delivered again and again when it comes to Neoclassical Thrash Metal. Hell, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone out there who sounds like them, which is a good thing. So, along comes album number five The Sound of Steel (out now, Prosthetic Records) and Jeezus Fuck is it goooooood!! With the departures of guitarist David Rivera and drummer Mario Mortus, singer/guitarist Conan enlisted Chase Becker (guitar) and Carlos Cruz (drums) of WARBRINGER to record the ten tracks you see/hear before you.
So what about these songs, hey? Well, from jump opener “Make Haste” is a statement song that takes no prisoners and hauls ass! Next up we have one of my favorites in “Feast of Flesh.” The riffs and the groove make it sound like this one would be equally at home in 1987 as it is today. And when a band can straddle different eras of Thrash like that, it’s a wonderful thing. Another one I absolutely loved is “Into the Maw of Hell” with the way it shakes things up tempo-wise. This is one of those tunes I really hope is played live on the upcoming tour. The interplay between Conan and Becker is pretty tasty, and the dual solo runs are vicious as Hell!
Cruz’s drums anchor “To the Ends of the Earth” and it seems as though he’s everywhere at once, not unlike HAVOK’S Pete Webber, one of my favorite drummers on the planet. The skin pounder also shines brightly on “A Minor Instrumental” and while it barely hits the three minute mark, it still leaves an impact akin to an axe splitting the head. Another favorite and without a doubt the album’s best cut is “Strength and Honor.” I knew Conan could sing, but the high-pitched wails of him on this one practically gave me a stickytip!! You can bet I violated my REPEAT button with this one. Don’t attempt these vocals at home, kids. You might get a rupture.
More of the dual harmonized guitar work we’ve come to know and love from these guys permeates “Turn the Tide” from beginning to end, and it also seems like they’ve got a bottomless well full of riffs and shred, even after five records. Instrumental “Tempest” is a bit of a head-scratcher at first because you have no idea where it’s headed, but then it guides us right into Shredtown, USA and all is once again right with the world. There’s a dark feel to “Riders of Doom” that only serves to accentuate the music and vocals, and it’s another winner on an album chock full of them.
Closing us out is “Victory or Death!” and there’s nowhere this track could be but at the end. You wanna talk about going out with a bang? Then this is your song! Man alive, the riffs, vocals, bass, and drums come together in such a way that even my lazy ass was ready to Into Glory Ride (see what I did there?). How you begin and end a record is super important and these guys know exactly how to do it. At the end of the day EXMORTUS have once again struck gold with The Sound of Steel, so much so that this is now giving Slave to the Sword a run for its money as my favorite from these guys. Go and buy this beast TODAY!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM