Nima : With three very strong albums to its name, American quartet Exmortus has – righteously – built quite a reputation and has definitely developed its own sound over the last few years. Two years after ’Slave To The Sword’ the band strikes again with the follow-up. They couldn’t have chosen a better title for the record in my opinion, because this album is the proof that Exmortus is again a few steps further in its quest, and more importantly that they are unstoppable.
With each record the band has shown great progress on both technical and songwriting matters, and has also more and more taken distant from the constant blast-attitude as they showed on their debut, ’In Hatred’s Flames’. ‘Ride Forth’ is no exception for that matter and is a logical step in the band’s career. With this record the men have also delivered their most versatile and most melodic album to date. Don’t get me wrong though, because there is no lack of speed nor aggression here. It’s just that the traditional and neo-classical influences, and shredding a la Malmsteen, Cacophony and co. is far more present on this record. Besides that the music this time leans more towards thrash and heavy metal. I constantly have to think of names such as Megadeth, Annihilator, Exodus, Death Angel, but also Dark Tranquillity and of course Judas Priest. Of course there are still interfaces with death metal, but according to what we hear on ‘Ride Forth’ I wouldn’t label Exmortus as death metal any more. I’m also not sure what to call it exactly, which in this case is only positive. I’d say extreme heavy metal! But it really doesn’t matter how you call it; bottom line is that this is utterly metal, and that’s the only thing that matters.
Traditionally the music contains many layers, and because there is so much going on in one song, the music may sound somewhat incoherent initially. The beauty however is that at the same time the album is also immediately catchy. It’s just that it requires multiple turns in order to make a lasting impression. With every listen the magic reveals itself more and more and the details come to the surface. And let me just say that – shortly put – it all sounds quite impressive. The songwriting is very strong and there is not one single note that is not supposed to be there. The guitars are breathtaking and the gentlemen deliver the one impressive riff and solo after another. The rest of the band is not of a lesser quality and altogether the gentlemen guarantee the one highlight after another. This is just heaven for technical and musical nerds!
Also on sound matters ‘Ride Forth’ is the band’s strongest effort so far. Details are quite important in music with such complexity, and thanks to the clear and delightfully heavy production the details come into their own well. The beautiful artwork by Phil Lawverve (known from a.o. Kreator, Hirax, Deathrow, Celtic Frost, and who was also responsible for the beautiful artwork for ‘Slave To The Sword’) completes the picture. In conclusion we can say that ‘Ride Forth’ is a solid record by a group of highly gifted, enthusiastic and determined musicians, and one that raises the bar for extreme metal music. Shortly put, Exmortus is riding forth to the top!