Exmortus – Ride Forth
Release Date: January 8, 2016
Exmortus is back with its fourth full-length album, Ride Forth, that is easily the first truly beastly metal release of the new year. While the band has been tagged as Technical Thrash Metal, Death Metal and even Melodic Death Metal, personally, I find it very difficult to put them under a single genre’s banner. But whatever they are, they do sound amazing. Their previous full-length release, Slave To The Sword, received favorable reviews overall and rightly so. Combining neoclassical guitar lines in the midst of thrashy riffage seems to be their formula of songwriting and they do not deviate from that on Ride Forth. However, it seems they have traded some of the raw aggression for a more polished sound and an even more intricate web of neoclassical goodness.
The album kick starts with “Speed of the Strike”, and your ear drums are hit with supremely intricate guitar lines, with the drums and the bass closely on the heels. Vocalist and guitarist Jordan “Conan” Gonzalez makes a grand entrance with his growls as the rhythms and drums gallop forth, progressing this kick ass opener. It was refreshing to hear the band’s new bassist, Mike Cosio, crystal clear in the mix as he provides a rock solid base on which guitarists Gonzalez and David Rivera create a complex musical tapestry ably supported by Mario Mortus behind the kit. The opener will make you fall in love with the band’s inimitable playing style.
As I mentioned before, melody overpowers the aggression on this album as the band sounds like a more refined version of itself. Gonzalez’s growls too are a bit less corrosive and quite easy to decipher yet sounds massive. Technical wizardry is in ample doses, like their previous albums, and I would be surprised if you do not find their musicianship jaw dropping. Just listen to the solo on “Relentless” or the intro of “For the Horde” and try stopping yourself from raising those horns up. The twin guitar attack of Gonzalez and Rivera stand out on each and every track and their chemistry is something special to witness. Especially on the instrumental track “Appasionata”, that makes you want to close your eyes and conduct those insanely tangled guitar lines with an invisible baton. Cosio’s performance on this track too deserves a special mention as he crafts some finessed bass lines complementing the guitarists at every note. Mortus acts as the glue to hold the groove together and rounds up this enthralling composition.
I would have liked the band to preserve some of the raw aggression in their composition and roughened the edges a bit, especially on the rhythm sections. The intricate technical compositions also become a minor flaw for this album as the band sounds a tad repetitive when we listen to the entire album two or three times in succession. Especially on its last two tracks, I found my attention gradually slipping away after multiple spins. However, it sounds fresh once again as you take a break in between.
The production on this album is squeaky clean and makes every member sound crystal clear in the mix. You can easily distinguish each element in the composition which makes it a very immersive experience. The length of this album is precise, just barely crossing the 45-minute mark. This works in the favor of the band as the album doesn’t drag itself towards the end.
To summarize, Exmortus give us a grand start to the new year with Ride Forth. It is full of mesmerizingly intricate guitar lines that you will thoroughly enjoy. Exmortus stomp into battle with authority. The band’s style with its unique playing signature and hypnotic compositions on this album. There are many standout moments on Ride Forth, and this is another solid stud in the band’s leather crown.
Exmortus begins its North American Tour with Warbringer and Enforcer, January 5 in New York.