The French tech-death band Exocrine have released their fifth record The Hybrid Suns (Unique Leader Records) and it is said to “study the voyage between life and death”. Exocrine are known for flawlessly bridging the gap between the savage technicality of bands like Archspire, with the more progressive elements of their fellow Bordeaux-based musicians Gorod and this combination does not disappoint.

Their previous album Maelstrom (2020) was a tremendous example of their unique sound – technical death metal blended with both progressive and synth-wave elements and their newest release The Hybrid Suns pushes the boundaries even further. The Hybrid Suns was both written and produced by the band’s founder and guitarist Sylvain Octor-Perez and offers crystal clear production, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the intricate and extremely technical musicianship.

FFO: Archspire, Gorod, Obscura, Cryptopsy, Virvum.

Album track list:

  1. The Hybrid Suns
  2. Dying Light
  3. Horns
  4. Watchtower
  5. Vortex of Shadow
  6. End of Time
  7. Burning Sand
  8. Blast
  9. Shrine

The opening track The Hybrid Suns gives the listener a mind-blowing showcase of all the musical tricks this band has in their arsenal. Face melting guitar solos, the extreme tempo and drum technicality of tech-death, and the brutal vocals of death metal. This song also manages to give me the same triumphant, energizing feeling I get whenever I listen to a power metal song – it’s a real ‘going into battle’ song. (Listen to this song via the YouTube link at the bottom of this article).

The songs Vortex of Shadow and Blast feature more of the ferocity of traditional tech-death, whilst still managing to feature melodic breakdowns and Blast boasts a sprinkling of light synths in the background, which provides an interesting contrast.

The song Dying Light features an intense bass line, a pleasing blend of light female clean vocals and male death metal growls and some progressive elements which are reminiscent of the riffs from Tool’s album Ænema.

Want some heavy, catchy riffs and mind-blowing guitar solos? Then check out the songs End of Time and Horns. They stood out to me as the songs with the most distinct guitar solos and melodic guitar sections. Horns takes a more aggressive and heavy approach, whereas End of Time features a melodic guitar section, accompanied by the ever-loved gatling gun double bass drum.

The tracks Watchtower and Burning Sand are the two most unique songs on the album, due to their interesting intros. Watchtower opens with a synth-wave section which plunges directly into the punishingly brutal vocals and blast beats of death metal. Burning Sand is perhaps the most different song from this album. It opens with a refreshing flamenco/classic acoustic guitar section (reminiscent of the breakdown in the song To Carry My Grief Through Torpor and Silence by the band Allegaeon) and even features some thrash metal style riffs, before ending with an extremely powerful tech-death section.

The final track Shrine rounds off the album in great style. It is the album’s heaviest track featuring chunky guitars, subtle black metal elements and deep death metal vocals. This, plus the haunting screaming vocals, creates a strange atmosphere of impending doom and leaves the listener feeling uneasy but also very satisfied.

Exocrine are evolving their own unique style within the technical death metal genre, with their ability to expertly combine elements from other musical genres. The Hybrid Suns has already secured a high spot on my Album of the Year list and sets the bar very high for the technical death metal genre.

Rating: 9/10