The Exies - Head For
by Keavin Wiggins
The Exies had a lot to live up to when
it came time to follow-up their major label debut Inertia. That
is a lot to ask of anybody. While Head For The Door doesn't quite
reach the 5 Star status of Inertia (there is no "Creeper Kamikaze"
on this CD), the band did themselves and their past proud with this new
album. Anyone that loved Inertia is sure to welcome Head
for The Door with open arms. Anyone that missed out the last
time, has been given another chance to find out what makes The Exies standout
from other current bands.
The Exies kick things off with the grungy
and melodic "Slow Drain", packed full of their patented knack for hooks
set against raw heaviness. It's a balancing act they excel at. Not ones
to rest on a single formula, The Exies slightly mix it up with "Splinter,"
a song slightly reminiscent of Alice in Chains on steroids. But again when
it gets to the choruses that's when the band sinks their teeth "deep into
your skin". This tune has a cool shuffle rock groove that is great
to hear at full volume when you're cruising in excess of 75 mph.
The next song and first single "Ugly" is
the closest the band comes to capturing the true magic of the breakthrough
songs on Inertia, "Creeper Kamikaze" and "My Goddess". For this
one they employ the Nirvana formula of light to heavy with an amazingly
captivating melody that sticks like glue to your brain long after the song
is over. This is The Exies at their best.
For the next number, "What you Deserve,"
the band go off in a slightly different direction. Still grunge and rockin'
but divergent from the overall Exies sound. A great song that grows on
you after a few listens. The slowed down midsection that quickly builds
to climax is a real highlight.
"Hey You," comes on with a slightly tribal
feel and continue with the Alice in Chains vibe. The vocals on the chorus
just rock. While the song doesn't have quite the compellingly addictive
quality of some of their other songs, it's a nice change up for the album
and keeps a cool flow going when you listen from start to finish.
That's one thing I love about the Exies, you do listen from start to finish.
There is no skipping ahead to the next song with these guys.
"Baptize Me" is a shoe-in for a single.
"F.S.O.S." is full throated rocker and "My Opinion" keeps the energy level
up but from a different musical standpoint.
The overall feel of this disc isn't as
diverse as Inertia, but "Dear Enemy" comes along and brings that
vibe. This song skids along the edges of Nirvana but with the key Exies
sound. A real highlight that sets the tone for the rest of the album and
prepares you for the real change up with the next track.
"Tired of You" is the power-ballad in this
bunch that really stands out from the other songs in temperament. It's
a strong ballad and if the band hadn't outdone themselves with "Creeper
Kamikaze," this song would pack a lot more power. But as it is, it's a
great track on an already great album.
I know I keep mentioning "Creeper Kamikaze,"
but that's only because it is such an amazing song that it's hard to measure
other songs from this group without using that as the litmus test.
After the mellowed out vibe of "Tired of
You", the Exies kick things back up with "Normal" a powerful rock that
again features a tribal like rhythm. This is the sound that Puddle of Mudd
try so hard to capture but fail at.
The Exies make a strong finish with "Don't
Push the River," a cool rocker that serves as the perfect encore.
The buzzword this time around is power.
The Exies have the rare talent of hitting you over the head with the rock
while making you sing along at the same time. The cliché once again
applies with this album, this band does know how to write songs that stick
to your brain like glue and you find yourself singing along even the first
time you hear the songs.
The band's major label debut was more in
the modern rock/alternative direction while this album went for more of
post-grunge feel. That makes Head For The Door a far more focused
album than The Exies past two efforts. It still diverse but the overall
feel stays within a set envelope of tone and temperament. What made Inertia
so great was the fact that it really took off in some truly different directions.
What makes this album great is the band capitalize on some of their strengths
as songwriters and deliver a consistency this go around. While it is a
bit like comparing The Beatles' Rubber Soul to Abbey Road, Head
for the Door does sound like it is from the same band, just somewhere
further down the road. Musically, it is more than a worthy follow-up and
hopefully if the listening public gets a chance to hear it, they will latch
on to the same elements that made this jaded critic a big fan of this band.
Rock is far from dead, The Exies prove
that a new generation of bands have what it takes to keep rock alive and
well and growing into this 21st century. With their artful mix of
melody and power, The Exies don't compromise in either department and deliver
another standout album.
- Head For The Door