Exmortus – The Sound of Steel

It’s been two years since their last offering, Ride Forth, but the guys from Exmortus are back with a vengeance. On June 8th (via Prosthetic Records) comes The Sound of Steel – the band’s fifth full release. I’m going on record right now to say it is my favorite record from these young men out of Whittier, California.

For fans of Exmortus (like me) you know what you can expect based off of their previous releases: growling vocals that speak of battle and war, incredible classical infused shredding and heavy riffs that make you bang your head, all things that make a winning Metal album. But there is something just a little different on The Sound of Steel that separates it just a bit from their past releases.

Long time members Mario Moreno (drums) and David Rivera (guitar) have stepped away from the band which opened the door to bring in some new, but very familiar, talent. This record features Carlos Cruz on drums and also Chase Becker on guitar, both members of Warbringer’s current lineup. Add in the fun fact that this is bass player Phillip “Cody” Nunez’s first recording with the band, and you have all the making for something new, fresh and far Thrashier then we are used to hearing from this LA based band….. and I fucking dig it!

Another thing that stands out here is the production: Zack Ohren from Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California plain and simply nailed it on this album. This is by far Exmortus’s cleanest sounding album to date. Everything just sounds right in the mix, like it should, a well thought out and perfectly played symphony of Metal goodness. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good Metal album that “sounds dirty in the pants”, but this isn’t one of them. This is a precision machine with the right sound firing on all cylinders.

For being such a young man, founding member Jadran Gonzalez aka “Conan” is one of the hottest guitarists out there today, and this album is a prime example of that. His love of classical music is a wondrous attribute and lends itself to his writing and playing style. I was really curious to see how Chase and Conan would click together on a recording. I mean, for those who follow the band you have probably seen them play together live a few times, but to get in a studio and hammer out tunes together might be a different story. Not in this case. It seemed effortless and the guitar banter between the two is fucking amazing. Switching back and forth from leads to rhythm flawlessly, it really is a thing of beauty to hear.

Carlos Cruz is a beast on this record. For those who know his work in Warbringer you pretty much know what you’re going to get, a super smooth powerful drummer with not a lot of wasted motion. He is a machine on the drum kit as precise as it could get with the maniac guitarist in front of him throwing down the crazy riffs. Speaking of guitarists, Phillip on bass – this guy might as well consider himself a third lead guitarist. For a first record, he jumps straight in to the deep end of the pool, almost at times matching the crazy leads Conan and Chase are laying down. I have seen him play live for a few years now, but to hear this dude get down as hard as he did, nothing short of phenomenal. Much respect man!

The Sound of Steel is a bit of the old and new from our friends in Exmortus. In one sense you have the foundation that was laid down years back, heavy riffs that tend to lean towards technical Death Metal but now those have been infused with some really strong Thrash tones. It’s not every day you hear a band blend together Beethoven or Mozart with modern day Death/Thrash Metal, but Exmortus has done it, and done it very well.

Do yourself a favor, preorder your copy now, or just go out and buy a physical copy on June 8th. The Sound of Steel is a must have for any self respecting Metalhead; there is something for everybody on it. Bravo guys, well done! And be sure to check out Exmortus on tour starting out in late June as it takes them across North America and Canada – if you have never seen them live, you’d be a lot cooler when you do.

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Gene A. Gaona enjoys writing album reviews and conducting artist interviews for Hellbound.ca and Capital Chaos TV as well as taking in as many live metal shows as possible. He firmly believes there is nothing better in this world than his family, and great heavy metal.