Exmortus have returned to the battle field with yet another sword swinging and shield clashing epic release of thrash and technical shredding brilliance. Their highly anticipated fourth full-length release, “Ride Forth,” is a combination of this band’s unbelievable instrumental talents and their undying passion for heavy metal music.
After the band’s last album, “Slave to the Sword,” one could not even begin to imagine how they could raise the bar and out do the musicianship featured on that amazing release. I think the band is easily one of metal’s most talented groups of musicians who can combine epic sounding thrash with complex technical playing that takes on an Yngwie like neoclassical approach to guitar shredding. The two guitarists David Rivera and Conan Gonzalez are a solid twin guitar attack team that delivers on every song. Also, the bassist they have on this new album, Michael Cosio, really provides an impact on how the release sounds. His bass playing on the instrumental track, “Appassionata,” is equally as mind blowing as that of the technical lead guitar playing. Lastly, drummer Mario Moreno has his hands full behind the kit following along to the demanding compositions. Overall, Exmortus is full of talented guys who know how to play their instruments.
Each of the nine tracks on, “Ride Forth,” offer listeners with plenty of tasty lead guitar parts, triumphant sounding riffs and epically written lyrics that are provided by Conan’s growls of fierce war like aggression. The beginning song, “Speed of the Strike,” is what most fans of technical thrash would desire to hear in a piece of music. As the guitar duo glides through melodic sounding scales, the drums and bass hammer away at a bombastic sounding rhythm. Right away Exmortus establishes a recognizable technical thrashing sound that is maintained throughout the release. Track two, “Relentless,” is one of the more catchy sounding songs on the album and offers a solid balance of shred and classic sounding metal. The lyrics are very triumphant and uplifting with lines like, “Brandish your swords up high... Dauntless and bold we face the endless horde.”
The third track, “For the Horde,” was released as a single before the entire album came out, so I had heard this track a few times before. I felt like the song was solid piece of metal music and it reminded me of certain songs that were on the previous album. The band definitely puts more emphasis on shredding with this new release and I felt like the album’s production tries to get listeners' to really recognize those lead guitar parts and quick guitar sweeps. “Let Us Roam,” was one song where the band shredded through technical parts, but also made way for slower and heavier verse sections. Probably my favorite song on the album, “Black Sails,” has that dynamic songwriting structure where you are engaged the entire time. The riffs are never one dimensional and the band was very creative with not only the instrumental parts, but also the lyrical imagery that they came up with.
The sixth sing on the album, “Hymn of Hate,” throws down more vicious compositions and insane lead guitar playing. Following it up is the instrumental, “Appassionata,” which takes the world Beethoven and heavy metal to forge one amazing piece of instrumental music. Exmortus’ version of, “Moonlight Sonata(Act 3),” I felt was more raw sounding when mixing the classical with metal which I really enjoyed. However, this new instrumental piece is extremely impressive and the musicianship all around is phenomenal. “Death to Tyrants,” and “Fire and Ice,” close the album out by never straying away from that strong thrash and shred mentality. Conan’s devilry on, “Death to Tyrants,” sounds unapologetic and even matches the attitude that can be heard during the snarling lead guitar parts.
When all nine tracks are finished, all those Exmortus fan who were looking to hear another smashing release full of wicked sounding technicality and triumphant battle themed lyrics shall be extremely pleased with, “Ride Forth.” I find my only slight critique to be that I preferred the production on, “Slave to the Sword,” which I felt at times conveyed a more raw and aggressive vibe. The production on “Ride Forth,” is by no means disappointing, but I think there is a slight difference in how certain areas were recorded. One example is Conan’s vocals that sounded a bit more extreme on the previous album and on this new album maintain a very consistent tone.
In the end, this new Exmortus album is highly worth checking out if you like technical thrash and crazy guitar shredding. The album is an enjoyable bone crushing listening experience that makes me want to grab a battle axe and charge into battle. Hail Exmortus and their glorious shredding talents that are so extreme that Disney wouldn’t let them play at the House of Blues in Anaheim...If Disney does not create an Exmortus themed ride they are seriously missing out on one awesome opportunity!
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