REVIEW: EXUMER – “The Raging Tides”
“Good music or art in general does not have an expiration date, and the people behind creating the art go through changes just like everybody else.” – Mem Von Stein
Quite an apt statement one might say considering the fact that the band in question is one that has been crucified, burnt on the stake and banished to the tartarian depths of obscurity for a quarter of a century, only to be resurrected by a loyal (understatement of a thousand years) fan base. Personality conflicts, financial issues, sadistic management (to name a few)….Exumer have seen it all and have continually put their dislodged balls back into their sac. So did I get a ginormous boner when I was offered the plum job of reviewing their 4th album? Yes I did and it was good.
Teaming up with producer Waldemar Soychta (Sodom, Therion) for the second time, Mem Von Stein (vocals) and Ray Mensh (guitars) along with T Schiavo (bass), Matthias Kassner (drums) and Marc B (guitars) went into studio at Waldstreet Sound in Dortmund and came out with ‘The Raging Tides’.
The album is pure unadulterated thrash, in short and has no space for other styles. It commences with the title track which starts with a haunting intro very reminiscent of Possessed By Fire albeit much shorter. The texture of the first two songs “The Raging Tides” and “Brand Of Evil” is very similar and scarily monotonous which changes with the third song “Catatonic”. The song starts with a mid-paced double bass pattern with some nice work on the toms and then goes into a very Seek and Destroyish pattern. “Sacred Defense”, “Welcome To Hellfire” and “Sinister Souls” follow the classic kick-snare pattern. “Shadow Walker” is, in my opinion, the track that stands out in this album. The intro is haunting and gives you a feeling of trepidation (you actually picture a man walking the green mile to the chair while hearing this intro). The solo in this song has got feel, unlike the ones in the other songs which are extremely stale. “There Will Always Be Blood” has got potential for one of those manic double bass spurts, but I guess Matthias thought otherwise. The covers on the album were pretty decent and I would like to single out Grip Inc.’s “Hostage To Heaven” over Pentagram’s “Forever My Queen” which features Rob Dukes and Walemar Soychta (obviously) and where Matthias finally executes those fast double bass beats to perfection.
The album is definitely thrashy and one can actually have glimpses of the musical trajectory which Mem and Ray straddled through and the musical maturity which they developed over 25 years. This album encompasses a much more superior song structure than ‘Possessed By Fire’ and ‘Rising From The Sea’ and the riffs are more meaningful. Having said that, I should further add that this album does not contain the same fire and soul which their previous album ‘Fire And Damnation’ had. The solos lack character and the drumming is extremely one-dimensional. It does not have the classic double bass shred patterns that is territorial of thrash nor does it have those innovative chops popularized by Lars Ulrich. The songs, barring a few, failed to raise the hair on the back of my neck. The sound is extremely murky and lacks the crispness that thrash generally exudes.
Dave Mustaine once said “You have your entire life to write your first record….the pressure starts kicking in when you have to write your second record”. Exumer should definitely be given credit for their patience and for not sitting on their asses and doing diddly squat after being chewed and spat out by the viciousness of the music business and this album has what it takes to be a good album, but their sophomore effort post resurrection does not live up to the catchy chaotic thrash fest that “Fire And Damnation” was. After listening to the album my erection was left at half-mast and I was slightly disappointed with the boys. Lets hope they bring more passion into their upcoming albums!!