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Exist – Egoiista

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 July 2020, 7:44 AM

EXIST is a Progressive Metal band from Baltimore, Maryland that was started by guitarist and vocalist Max Phelps in the mid 2000's. Their debut album, titled “Sunlight,” was self-released in 2013 and in 2017 they began working with Prosthetic Records to release their second album, “So True So Bound.” That same year they toured the US supporting GORGUTS and this year will be on the road supporting OBSCURA and BEYOND CREATION on a North American tour. Besides being active writing and releasing their own music, the members of Exist have been involved in playing with other larger, internationally known artists such as CYNIC, DEATH TO ALL, LEFF LOOMIS, AND DEFEATED SANITY. “Egoiista” is the third release, and contains nine tracks.

“Through Suffering he Paints the Universe” opens the album. It’s a ten-minute opus, opening with soft clean guitar notes, and an air of despondence. Clean vocals enter the fray. Just before the half-way mark, it takes a dark turn, with harsh vocals, and increased instrumentation. “The Lottery” is just under six-minutes. Opening again with clean guitar notes and vocals, it’s like the tale of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Sometimes the music is playful and wistful and other times it’s angry and aggressive. A charge of bass guitar and lead guitars take the track to completion. “Under the Storm Comes” is a seven-minute beast. It opens with heavy tones and harsh vocals. A guitar solo ushers in a much more charming passage. I think I like these moments of beauty better than the overly-aggressive ones, but on this album, you will get both.

“Infinite Monkey Theorem” is the longest on the album, at close to eleven minutes in length. Choppy, attacking guitars lead the charge to dark tones with harsh vocals. Melody has been replaced with dissonance here for the most part. The technical work is noteworthy, however. There is a dreamy sequence around the half way mark. It’s the transitions I have the most trouble with. There really aren’t many. “Siblings Born into Different Dimensions” opens with a beautiful sequence of harmonized vocals and easy listening instrumentation. As it moves forward, the melody shoots the song high into the horizon.  “Egocosm” is another lengthy song that opens with clean tones and singing. This time the transitions to the harsher sound are done much better. The harsh passages come and go.

“Last Flight Looming” is a short two-minute instrumental. Guitar notes are held and bent, and that’s about the only thing you get here. It’s a bit on the trippy side. “Spotlight’s Glow” opens with a fast moving, chaotic entrance. I like the keys there hidden underneath the guitars and harsh vocals. From there, it’s a bevy of technical notes going all over the place. Transitioning to an ambient passage, the previous sound returns. “Amongst the Trees” closes the album, with clean and pretty guitar notes, but also with an air of the melancholy. Vocals and clean at first, but around the three-minute mark, the harshness sets in. It then transitions back to the earlier sound in the beginning.

Overall, I am not quite sure what to make of the album as a whole. The band is clearly talented and have a knack for both the softer and more melodic side of Progressive music, as well as the unabashed harsher side. Where most of my troubles occur is that the constant trade-off from one to the other is sometimes done without clear transitions. It just kind of sneaks up and bites you in the ass out of nowhere. It’s a good album, but could be better in that regard.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 5
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

1. Through Suffering he Paints the Universe
2. The Lottery
3. Under the Storm Comes
4. Infinite Monkey Theorem
5. Siblings Born into Different Dimensions
6. Egocosm
7. Last Flight Looming
8. Spotlight’s Glow
9. Amongst the Trees
Max Phelps
Alex Weber
Matt Rossa
Brody Smith
Record Label: Prosthetic Records


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