Hailing from Canada, EXPAIN is not your run-of-the-mill thrash metal band. No, no, they’ve definitely got something different to bring to the party. Sure, all the requirements are there: ferocious drumming, slicing riffs, and ripping vocals, but it’s the structures of these songs that definitely stand out on this self-released debut album Just the Tip, which is out now. You’ve got thrash, prog, jazz, and more all being thrown at you in one hell of a sonic whirlwind; it’s crazy!! My first listen I was like, “What the fuck is going on here?!?” and I’ve been back a dozen times or so since.
After the intro of “Bacchus” the top-notch musicianship immediately shows itself on “Aggressions Progression”, bassist Nikko Whitworth being the biggest standout, while “Phoenix Writhing” is a call to arms with Daniel Brand’s vocals serving as the War Cry for this metal assault. One of the tunes I dug most was “The King” for several reasons, not the least of which is the interplay between guitarists Pat Peeve and Eric Morrison as well as Whitworth. It has a jazzy feel at the beginning then just goes all Red Alert DEFCON 1 on us in the blink of an eye. A definite album highlight for sure! The solo also flows nicely here, helping to make this an album favorite.
The riff machine is at full throttle for “Don’t Worry, the Worst Is Yet to Come”, with drummer Ryan Idris also getting quite a workout during this one. Brand is particularly on fire during this track, spitting venom like his life depends on it. “Idol Worship” was another instant favorite, and trust me, when you hear the music you’ll totally get why. This is like a sonic kick to the solar plexus and it basically says, “Come on, then!” You’ll love it, I know you will. The band tones down a wee bit for parts of “Allegiance to Pain” and it’s a welcome change from the usual intro/thrash/intro/thrash we’ve all had to endure from some bands that get monotonous over the years, right? Plus it’s short and sweet with some gorgeous breaks that were completely unexpected.
I also liked “Manatee” because it’s got some definite bite as well as arguably the biggest old-time thrash sound on this album. And “Headbang Your Head Off” despite the silly title also serves up one of the best riffs as well as grooviest drum patterns throughout. At first listen I didn’t know how I’d feel about “A.T.M.” and even now I’m not sure whether I like it or not; it’s a tad weak. Fear not though, ‘cause closing the record out is absolute powerhouse “Eat a Beating Heart”, which only serves notice that EXPAIN is a band that’s gonna be here for a while, so ya better fucking get used to them!! I loved Just the Tip and I cannot wait to hear more from these guys…truth!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “ Headbang Your Head Off”, “Idol Worship”, “The King”, “Don’t Worry, the Worst Is Yet to Come”, “Allegiance to Pain”