Bart D. : Exivious from the Netherlands return with a follow-up to their splendid debut album. The goal of the band since then doesn't seem to have changed one iota, although I was disappointed to find out drummer Stef Broks had to call it quits due to his commitment to Textures. Luckily, they found a drummer nearby who managed to get me over my initial disappointment by colouring the new album beautifully with his artful drumming: Yuma van Eekelen. So what we have here is a follow-up to the debut that makes total sense and in some way contains no surprises at all: it is once again an album filled with stellar compositions that fuse together a plethora of styles into one fluid sound. The goal of Exivious remains to create music fused by influences ranging from jazz to metal, but more importantly inspired by human emotions and experiences - and I don't write this because it is stated so in their bio!
One major change to my ears is the vast improvement in sounds, primarily in the guitars department. Although there is still much compression going on typical for fusion-influenced playing, the guitars sound fresher, livelier, more personal and rock out far more. The diversity between the compositions has also grown, making 'Liminal' a surprising listening experience. Who for example could predict an almost pure jazz attitude transform into a post-rock like climax? It happens in 'Alphaform'. As bonus Jonas Knutsson joins in on 'Deeply Woven' for some saxophone magic. Genres don't matter here: this is an album best enjoyed with headphones on to get fully immersed and taken in by all the beautiful details like the perfectly tuned and applied toms. Exivious is making music. And now they're signed to the excellent label Season of Mist and are ready to hit the road, so we're lucky bastards because we can rest assured they won't put the band on hiatus all of a sudden soon again.