Album Review: EXUMER The Raging Tides
There's been a surprising wealth of albums over the past handful of years emerging from the maw of bands that originally kicked it, along with some ass, back in the 80s. Somewhere along the line, the old timers discovered the fountain of youth, energy and rejuvenation as it applies to the power of metal. Whether they came back from long hiatuses or were thrashing all along, it would appear that the folks in Overkill, Onslaught, Hirax, Artillery, Death Angel and Raw Power (yeah, they’re a hardcore band, but they're still older than your pops and one of my favourites of all time. So there) have managed to ignore the aches and creaks of advancing chronology and conventional mainstream thought that this whole playing-metal-into-your-40s-and-50s thing is a phase in order to deliver a series of pretty storming releases. Of course, there has been just as much, if not more, of an expansive, Steve McQueen-in-The Blob-like growth of shite to contend with, but that’s par for a course that those culprits should either retire to or have never left in the first place.
Chalk up The Raging Tides, the fourth album in total for this Frankfurt/New York City long-standing Teutonic thrash institution, in the category of the former. Exumer originally came to being in the early 80s, released a kick ass debut in the form of Possessed by Fire in 1986 and a few not-so-hot subsequent releases. The band was pretty much silent until the festival circuit started waving cash under their noses in the early 00s. The Raging Tides is the band’s second release since reconvening back in 2008 (Fire and Damnation followed a couple years after dusting off the oldies during the initial thrash revival) and sweet goddamn has the band surprised, impressed and simply blown me the fuck away!
To be equally hyperbolic as objective, this album exists as a near-perfect example of old school sound, energy and song writing acumen mildly viewed through the lens of modern metal and the clinically clean production value of today. Hands down, it’s a raging (yeah, sorry about that) collection of incisive thrash metal done in the vein of their Teutonic cohorts like Kreator, 21st century Destruction and post-Persecution Mania Sodom. Being that Exumer originally hail from those days known as 'back in the day,' that they combine rapid fire riffing with half-time middle eights and great amounts of attention aimed at the directive of achieving consistently infectious choruses is a natural and welcome. One after another, after another, they offer up absolute barn stormers in the form of “Catatonic,” “Sacred Defense,” “Brand of Evil,” and “Death Factory” that not only play to fiery thrashing and forward sonic propulsion, but possess refrains that’ll penetrate brains to find themselves hummed, air guitar-ed and fist pumped to for weeks to come.
The alternate picked main riff of the title track is a familiar injection of energy, at once technical, yet simple, in a “Blackened” sort of approach with classic thrash bridge riffs based on E-string pedals and enough gang vocals to make you wonder if bassist Tony Schiavo [ex-Subzero and Skarhead] snuck some of his NYHC buddies into the studio off the clock. “Welcome to Hellfire” and “Sinister Souls” both have classic German thrash written all over and into them with the only downside(s) being the above-mentioned sterile production and those few moments when the band takes its collective foot off the gas. When Exumer slows down, they display a noticeable weakness that exhibits itself in a sound that’s not grimy enough for sustained lumbering chord progressions (examples include their cover of Pentagram’s “Forever My Queen” and “Shadow Walker”). And whether you want to chastise them for lifting from Exodus’ “A Lesson in Violence” during “There Will Always be Blood” is up to your discretion.
The point of necessity that requires mentioning is that it’s not that The Raging Tides has rewritten the wheel and presented a completely novel take on its chosen brand of musical vocation. To the contrary, Exumer has simply penned a robust album dripping with strong riffs, cogent arrangements and copious amounts of energy with little to no filler that’ll give credence to the idea that old dudes still have it in them and thrash best.