Before we even discuss the EP itself, we need to address the issue with Exorcism‘s line-up. Many sources on-line state that the only active member of the group at this moment is vocalist Csaba Zvekan (Metal Machine, Raven Lord), with former members Lucio Manca (Dominici, Solid Vision), Gary King (Achilles), and Joe Stump (HolyHell, Shooting Hemlock), supposedly no longer involved following last year’s effort. In fact, the official Facebook account states that everything else is handled by “TMS studio musicians”. I didn’t even get a band member or session member list with the review material, so, right now, I can’t say for certain if those three are involved with the World in Sin EP, or if it’s just a couple random session members the studio may have had floating around.
But, whatever the case me be as far as the members go, World in Sin doesn’t quite sound as good as one would hope one way or the other. Yes, there is a heavy analog quality present to the rougher production or mastering, and while it aids the Black Sabbath and Dio presence to an extent, the bass and guitars actually clash horribly. The latter is either lower in the mix, or a bit thinner compared to the louder buzz or twang of the former instrument mentioned. It just creates an odd grunge appeal along the lines of Pearl Jam or even Nirvana, but with strong heavy metal themes and overtones. The vocals have a nice hint of echo to them, though are a bit on the buried side when the music picks up, especially from the obnoxious pitch of certain solos, like what appears during “Virtual Freedom”. Thankfully the drum kit is at a decent level that works with everything present, even the keyboards that can show up from time to time with a very meager presence effective enough to cast the music into a specific atmosphere or direction.
Speaking of, “Virtual Freedom” is as good a place to start as any. This is one of the few tracks that has a decent bulkiness, though still has the aforementioned grunginess to it that, while it makes the main verses feel more like a heavier Alice in Chains musically (which can also be said about the title track), it does add a hint of grit to the melodic chorus that channels the spirit of nearly every heavy metal and power metal act to be picked up Limb Music around the turn of the century. Aside those issues, the track is actually really good. One of the best this EP has to offer in fact. The music is infectious with just enough attitude to bolster the hard rock side of the band and pay respect to the likes of Ronnie James Dio quite well, and the bass kicks really stand out, especially in the chorus with the steady rhythm that isn’t quite a gallop, but encompasses the pure attitude of heavy metal as a whole. It’s just unfortunate that the song seems to cut out quite abruptly with a quick fade following a short burst of static that ends up distracting the listener from a fairly powerful conclusion.
“World in Sin” is more of a bass-heavy piece of slow-moving heavy metal in the vein of Ronnie James Dio-era Black Sabbath for the main verses. The well paced performance is met with a brooding atmosphere that sounds absolutely miserable. The entire performance sticks with that tone except for the chorus, which actually is pretty enlightening, enhanced by the keyboards in the background that are reminiscent of sixties rock organs. Again, the music itself is good, as is the atmosphere established, but there’s little bite due to the reliance on the loud pulse of the bass guitar and how it greatly over powers the rest of the instruments, even the vocals at times. Meanwhile there’s “Black Day in Paradise”, which, other than some tighter drumming, quicker bridges, as well as more enthusiastic vocals in spots, it’s about the same otherwise.
“Sahara” just sounds like something torn straight for a Dio album. One of the things that makes Exorcism work is that it holds just enough originality in the vocals and music to separate itself from Dio’s works. This one, however, seems to trip over every general expectation of one of the late legends releases, right down to incorporating rainbows and things that lie at the end with that signature vocal approach that almost mirrors the one we’ve grown so familiar of and greatly miss. The only plus is the basic middle eastern elements in the ritualistic drum patterns, as well as the guitar solo, though the latter still doesn’t present much of a breath of fresh air either. “Black Star”, however, is a well executed rock track that treads the line between slow-paced doom and power ballad. There’s an unmistakable astral tone to the performance, as if gazing up at the night sky when not met with some heavier, richer riffs that take on a mournful memorial or prayer approach. The softer passages that are met with simpler keyboard notes, however, do elevate the listener a little bit, leaving you to feel as though you are adrift in the very cosmos you were just fondly looking at.
What World in Sin boils down to can be summed up as a mixture of Ronnie James Dio worship with traces of Savatage and Jon Oliva’s Pain thrown in for gritty or epic sensations. While this isn’t always a bad thing, this effort really just steps out of what special spotlight I Am God cast upon the band to throw an odd mixture of mainstream grit and hero-worship with little unique flair to make the band stand on their own two feet. It also doesn’t help that the audio values to this EP just make the instruments come off as a water color painting that someone left out in the rain for a few moments too many, leaving the bass guitar to become an unsupported blob to the surprisingly thin sounding guitars. Yes, this is important to keep mentioning because, really, it could very well have cast the release in a slightly different light than making it sound like a faulty mainstream version of what the general populace considering a dirty sounding effort. Whether or not any of this has to do with the band members possibly just being stock session members from the studio used, or the actual previous three members, is unclear as well, though, if the former, it definitely shows with how different this effort sounds compared to the band’s debut. In the end, World in Sin is a limited edition release fans will still buy, and, despite the aforementioned flaws, it does boast a few songs worth checking out if you can look past how it all sounds.