Exumer: Fire & Damnation

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Exumer: Fire & Damnation
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Exumer: Fire & Damnation
Thrash Metal
Metal Blade Records
April 10th, 2012
Release length: 33:30
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Exumer is a name that many fans of mid-eighties Thrash will probably remember. This German group formed back in 1985, and after their A Mortal in Black demo that very year, they found themselves signed to Disaster Records to issue their debut album Possessed by Fire in 1996, followed by Rising from the Sea roughly a year later. Unfortunately, the band broke up in 1990, leaving an eleven year gap of silence until reforming in 2001. It’s been about twenty two years since Exumer made anything commercially available for their fans, but they have finally returned with their reunion album, and third full-length recording, titled Fire & Damnation. But, is this really the comeback fans have been waiting for?

Well, Fire & Damnation is definitely not the most stunning return album for a band, but the production of the release does benefit them, favoring a deeper tone and pushing the bass forward in the mix with a loud and deeper presence against some heavier guitars with a slight sharpness to them. The drumming is captured well too, having a strong tightness to the snares and a subtle click to the bass kick that blends in with the rest of the music. The cymbals are a little more clear and apparent in comparison, but still a bit in the background. The vocals are a nice level as well, and the traditional harsher Thrash performance has a good range to it that often matches what energy exists. The modern audio does a good job at accentuating some of the eighties Thrash attitude and foundations as well, making this an album that does sound heavy.

But, not all of the material matches the quality of the production. Like many reunion albums, this one has it’s share of stand out songs, and many that show a gradual decline towards the end. The title track “Fire & Damnation” is an intense Thrash Metal thrill ride that finds a quicker pace punching the listener square in the face after a truly catchy introduction. The song itself introduces the speed and a little complexity in the faster chords, but the chorus slows things down to build up tension with a commanding Hardcore attitude that will instantly have you banging your head along. “A New Morality” is heavily bass-driven during many verses, and again shows traces of the aggression “Fire & Damnation” carried in the main passages and bridges. This leads to some really aggressive material that will have you banging your head right along, though sometimes you can’t help but compare it to more serious Gwar material. The chorus also introduces some melody to the riffs and a harmonzed vocal approach that sounds rich and immediately hooks the listener in a great way, even establishing a rather depressing atmosphere against the harsher tones that make up the rest of the offering. “Waking the Fire” is another strong offering. The guitar solo is one of the best even though it’s really short, and the vocals have a good deal of extra enthusiasm behind them that doesn’t go too far. The drumming is a lot tighter, and the gang chant style that hits prior to the chorus helps enrich the song a little more.

“Vermin of the Sky” picks things up a little more and brings in some additional enthusiasm and aggression, but sticks to the sound, as well as foundation laid out on “Fire & Damnation” with a few subtle changes. It’s a little close for comfort, especially given that both share the same track length to top it all off, but there’s enough differences that you can still enjoy it for what it is. Unfortunately, it can start to get a little old due to how rehashed it can sound. “Crushing Point” is a decent song as well, but the vocals do end up a little over-the-top during the chorus that detracts from the bite, and the slower material just doesn’t really offer up much of a unique experience, or even that enjoyable a one. Unfortunately this is about where the material starts to go downhill. The Punk and Hardcore influences are pretty obvious, but the music itself is just not too engaging. “I Dare You” sounds pretty bland, and lyrically it just seems like an excuse to swear with music that clearly was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek at times, but ultimately winds up uninspiring, and even somewhat hollow thanks to how little importance the bass has to it, and the overly simply drumming that occurs.

Fire & Damnation is a pretty strong album that captures the eighties Thrash spirit that Exumer had back in the day. The additional Hardcore attitude found on many of the songs does give it a nice edge, and a bit of a unique touch that today’s modern offerings, as well as those of the style’s current revival, don’t seem to accentuate quite well, instead giving over to the typical Crossover Thrash Metal sound. With plenty of good songs to be found that will easily get your head banging along to them, there’s no denying that Exumer is back, but needs to shake the cobwebs out a little more.

01. Fire & Damnation – 3:17
02. Vermin of the Sky – 3:17
03. The Weakest Limb – 3:51
04. A New Morality – 3:08
05. Walking the Fire – 3:14
06. Fallen Saint – 3:54
07. Crushing Point – 3:02
08. Devil Chaser – 2:43
09. I Dare You – 3:40
10. Tribal Furies – 3:28
Overall Score: 7/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.