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ALBUM REVIEW: Exocrine - Legend
French technical death metal act Exocrine ring in 2024 with their onslaught of technical and brutal death metal with the release of their new album Legend. Their first release as a new member of the Season of Mist roster. The follow up to 2022's The Hybrid Suns, the band dives further into the technical and progressive waters with this new release. Does the album live up to the album's title?
The album opens with "Presage". With thundering drum strikes, and an addition of somber and melancholic guitars, the song opens with chugging riffs in a sludge metal style sound in between double bass flurries by drummer Théo Gendron. Then the intensity and fury kick in on the album's title track. The complexity of the guitar playing, amidst the punishing blast beats and double bass just kick the album into overdrive. Jordy Besse's gutturals ring through the punishing riffage of Nicolas La Rosa & Sylvain Octor-Perez shredding their hearts out into the chorus. The random brass section near the halfway mark does catch the listener off guard, before returning to a chugging and pounding verse section. The band just goes for the throat on the song. The entire band is just playing with impressive precision, playing intricately complex passages while also maintaining the speed and heaviness akin to bands like Nile and Archspire. A pounding and pummeling opening track.
"Life" opens up with intricate double bass patterns over a methodical and complex guitar section that would make any guitar player happy to hear. Besse's vocals go even deeper, matching the driving down-tuned chugging and thudding throughout the verse section. With presence in his vocals, leading an almost demonic call-to-arms sound in the delivery. The song has a slow headbang, stink-face inducing section at the halfway mark that just makes the listener savor the moment, before the pacing picks up. The song's closing conclusion of blasting drums, choir and the thundering down turned riffing with a fretboard flying solo, makes it one of the stronger tracks off the album.
Following that is "Eidolon". Channeling a more manic and faster-paced feeling then the other two songs, Exocrine just continues the unmitigated intensity in all the elements. The chugging, intermixed with the drum fills by Gendron, just add more and more layering to the band's sound on the record. Double bass punches hard in the mix of the song, along with Besse's snarling and gritty vocals on the chorus. I love the band's mixture of heaviness, then segueing into atmospheric and emotional sounding guitar solos. Almost giving the listener a heavenly reprieve, before dragging them back down into their brutal hell.
"The Altar of War" opens with a building guitar over thumping and frantic bass playing. The band just hits the pedal to the metal again on the opening with the opening intensity. Guitars ring through the deep, down-tuned chaos of the bass. The musicianship is different on the track, with the chorus almost going for a more slowed-down riff before returning to the fast-paced intricacy of the band's sound. I love the guitar solo by Octor-Perez at the halfway mark. The atmosphere and ambience as the band hangs back to let him shine and shred is so well done, letting his skill showcase during that section. With "Dust in The Naught", the tracks features an opening progressive metal sound. Before the band's aggressive sound kicks in with very atmospheric guitar ambience into the verse section. The song almost has elements of a groove metal, black metal and melodic death metal hybrid sound after the halfway mark in the guitar playing, which I LOVE. The guitar solo with the complex drum fills behind it is such a unique dynamic, almost creating a duel solo effect. The song closes with a unique, almost 80's sounding Depeche Mode like section which definitely caught me off guard, but I think that is what Exocrine loves to do with their music, leaving you unexpected on where they will go next.
"Warlock" kicks off with blasting drums and driving tremolo guitars into the verse section. I also love the contrasting deep, bassy guitars with the high guitar leads, balanced beautifully in the mix. The song gives off a comparison to Cryptopsy in the layering of effects, driving drums and riff pacing. Exocrine improves on it with going even faster and pushing their musicianship throughout the track. "Dragon" opens with an almost power metal sounding opening guitar lead before BOOM! the drumming of Gendron kicks you in the gut as the pounding and pummeling playing of the band comes in full force. The bass-heavy rhythm in the verse creates that djent like sound into the driving and all over the place drumming with soaring guitar leads behind it. Gendron has another duel solo with Octor-Perez and I love their intricacy and shared musicianship in bouncing off each other through out. Reminding me of Jason Becker and his drummer on the album Perpetual Burn.
"The Oath" opens with a polyrhythm-like heaviness that would make any Meshuggah fan happy hearing. Besse's vocals are so dominant and furious on the track. With layering, distortion and his high snarly screaming, it adds dimension to the song going into the perplexing instrumentation of synths, blasting drums, chugging riffs and guitar leads. The album closes with "By The Light of The Pyre". With orchestral opening and wailing brass sections and building strings, the song builds up tension and anticipation as the listener waits for the band to join in. Then with deep gutturals, intense and fast-paced guitar playing, the band breaks the tension finally and starts the song off proper. With atmosphere in between the verse section and emotional guitar solo sections throughout the ambience, the song is a strong closer and a beautiful closing piece to one of Exocrine's best records.
Exocrine is a strong, brutal and technical record. The guitars shine on the record with their emotional, atmospheric and create a beauty amidst the horror and brutality in the band's sound. This is a band that I have been following and I think are a band that needs to start getting more hype for. The overall skill in all of the member's playing is just well done on all of their albums, including this record for sure. Exocrine is a band that is a band that needs to get more push in the world of technical death metal and a band you need to check out if you are into the complexity and diversity of technical death metal. With this strong release, and the success of last year with the year of death metal, Exocrine want to continue that trend with this release.
SCORE: 10 / 10
4) The Altar of War
5) Dust in The Naught
8) The Oath
9) By The Light of The Pyre
FFO: Beyond Creation, Obscura & Gorod