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Exsanguination - Spectral Hymns

Spectral Hymns
by Matt Bozenda at 22 August 2021, 12:48 PM

Death Metal gets a lot of undue flack. It used to be blamed for everything; church burnings, mass violence, teenage smoking, you name it. These days, the worst the community has to deal with is a scathing review of another of the genre’s efforts, and that is typically the case. Music journalism isn’t typically kind to Metal in general and Death metal especially. Even in the diplomatic halls of Metal Temple, any band is liable to be put through the ringer.

Thank the Metal Gods then that a decent job has been on the part of the Massachusetts-based newcomers EXSANGUINATION as they introduce themselves to the world with “Spectral Hymns”. A veritable supergroup of veteran musicians from the area, the band’s debut is an amalgam of previously released material combined with brand new stuff, resulting in one of the better endeavors for the genre in some time.

Starting things fast is “Martyred”, a fine benchmark track with a classical feeling, carrying a certain power that isn’t overwhelming, welcoming the listener in that brash Metal way. “Mortal Wounds” follows that with a short instrumental before “Revenant” creeps up, winding into an excellent Death metal riff track.

Things stay mostly the same for “Blasphemous” and “Lords Without Thrones”, a demonstration of consistency. “Tombs Of The Blind Dead”, however, is upended by production. To this point, the growling vocals have had a certain muted tone to them, but on this track, they’re positively inaudible, blighting an otherwise great track.

Quality is found again and quickly on “Screwdriver”, resuming the formula which worked for most of the previous tracks. “Blood Ocean”, while not a DETHKLOK cover, still works with a few pleasant hooks.

The album’s longest track at four-sixteen, “Machine Gunner” follows a much more conventional song structure, and is by far the album’s heaviest song, weighing so much you can actually call it slow. Closing the album is “Dominion”, the only other four minute song on the album and also leading an orthodox structure, and which could easily find a place on the All-2021 Playlist.

Those inclined to understand it will hear the care that went into production for the instruments, but the vocals are a different story as they are, for the most part, rather subdued. Some in the Metal community might call that an asset to a Death Metal band, however, so take the news whichever way you like. No matter how you feel about the genre, “Spectral Hymns” still balances into a great Death Metal album.

In their presser, the band lists a litany of legendary titans like BLOODBATH, DECEASED, and ENTOMBED, just to name a few, for the sake of comparison. They’ll get no argument here, and even with a few missteps, “Spectral Hymns” is a strong debut for any band trying to get into the fickle Death metal scene. The vox issues will have to be dealt with, but on a professional level, EXSANGUINATION seems to have all the pieces, and all the talent, to make a big splash for album number two.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Martyred
2. Mortal Wounds
3. Revenant
4. Blasphemous
5. Lords Without Thrones
6. Tombs Of The Blind Dead
7. Screwdriver
8. Blood Ocean
9. Machine Gunner
10. Dominion
Kevin MacDonald - bass
Brendan Roche - drums
Justin Chappell - guitars
Dan Lozzi - guitars, vocals
Record Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions


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