Exumer - Fire & Damnation Review
by Matt Hensch
Exumer, like many of its cohorts, returned after twenty-five big ones of inactivity with "Fire & Damnation," the band's first full-length album since 1987, which is quite the gap if I may say so. Many of the group's fellow countrymen who were once presumed permanently deceased (Necronomicon, Assassin, etc.) thought it wise to punch through the coffins and crypts which held these underground thrash warriors and execute the testament of thrash once again; Exumer was up and about in 2001, but "Fire & Damnation" did not see a release until eleven years after their initial reunion. I was never that guy drooling over Exumer, but "Fire & Damnation" isn't half-bad overall. In all honestly, it's about as good as any thrash offering from a long-dormant squad returning after many moons of inactivity can be, with hints of modern stuff from the later outputs of Exodus or the typical aged thrash veteran.
Now, the record itself lasts just a whisker above the thirty-three minute mark and features ten anthems. Eight of these nuggets are completely new, and the general style and aged themes of the young ones definitely strikes true; lots of influence and similarities from many modern thrash works, no doubt in league with Exodus et al. of this thrash resurrection. The riffs are vicious and frantic, the solos spastic and twitching, the pace diabolical at its fastest and devastating when yielding monstrous grooves. Out of the newbies, the title track and "Vermin of the Sky" are probably the best as they accurately represent everything "Fire & Damnation" attempts to be without introducing an ounce of mediocrity some of the closing numbers have. You can plausibly understand how this sounds without hearing it, actually.
Exumer rides on the same wavelength throughout the album, and it's clear they weren't out to reinvent how the world saw thrash or even themselves. The rerecorded tunes are a mixed bag, with “Fallen Saint” taking the cake (which I’ll get to shortly) and “I Dare You” slumping miserably. “I Dare You” just isn’t enjoyable; the lyrics are embarrassingly stupid and it’s quite the juvenile cut, definitely not one worthy of its immaturity. Now that I’m whining, I find Von Stein's voice to be really underwhelming and vapid here. His tactics are cheesy and way too one-dimensional for what Exumer is trying to portray, and he sounds utterly ridiculous spitting out the lyrical drivel of "I Dare You," which is easily the weakest song. A rerecording? Yea, but it totally fails and they should've let it rest in pieces.
I will be a stickler here and say that my favorite song is the rerecording of "Fallen Saint," featuring Paul Arakari on vocals, because it has a bigger crisp to it than the other anthems...and Arakari's voice works way better than Von Stein's. He has that rough edge of ravenous madness and aggression in that shout of his, almost like he's trying to eradicate a nest of vipers in his throat. Regardless, having a familiar friend on "Fire & Damnation" freshens the atmosphere a bit. With just one truly horrible song and few that fall beneath mediocrity, "Fire & Damnation" comes as a surprise to some. Not really original or pushing the boundaries of Exumer's legacy, but still enjoyable stuff in the grand scheme of the group's rejuvenation and the remaining outputs conceived by their metallic kinship.
Exumer - Fire & Damnation
tell a friend about this review
Thrash Worthy Link