Album Review: Exocrine – Maelstrom

Album Review: Exocrine – Maelstrom
Reviewed by Gareth Pugh

The Oxford Dictionary has this definition for ‘maelstrom’ noun:

  1. A situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil
  2. A powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river

Both of which are extremely apt for any of the tracks that appear on Exocrine’s fourth full length album ‘Maelstrom’. This is the band’s fourth release and this time around they’ve really extended themselves beyond their comfort zone, the band says, “we really pushed our limits this time, in composition and production. We put all our creativity into this album to make ‘Maelstrom’ as surprising as possible while remaining true to our style. We’ve tried new things like extreme tempos, but also very difficult and proggy parts. This time we’ve really experimented with new sounds and instruments. Anyway, it is certainly intense, but also crazy and fun!” Well the band are true to their words, throwing everything bar the kitchen sink into the album. Stop press: apologies, apparently the kitchen sink is in there.

Album Review: Exocrine – Maelstrom

Well it’s certainly intense, definitely crazy, and undoubtedly great fun. This is very much in the brutal end of the Tech Death metal category. And they incorporate all the elements you would expect from the genre, harsh guttural vocals, heavy as hell guitars, blast beats, time changes a plenty, etc. if you’ve heard their previous album ‘Molten Giant’, ‘Maelstrom’ is a continuation of this style, but with new drummer Theo, the tempos are pushed even further. In addition to that, the band have added much more instrumental experimentation, firstly the guitars have more jazz influences, something that was always present in their style, but this has been heightened even further and at times the guitars have an almost ‘jangly’ jazz higher pitched tone, which fits with the underlying discordant riffs and melodies extremely well. I’m not going to talk about individual tracks, as I feel it’s nigh impossible for words to come close to the complexity that each track holds. Suffice to say each track is individually stylistic and heavy, without losing that melodic sensibility that makes a song a song.

For all the experimentation, all the songs still maintain that musically quality essential for listenability; however much of a roller-coaster ride each song is. What I will mention is the other experiments the band have played with, at times, we have jazz trumpet outros, solos, keyboards, ambient ocean waves, piano, and other such bizarre and wonderful ideas. It really is a cornucopia of sounds, and if you like to be kept on your toes, this is the band/album for you to try. Sound wise the band have done a really good job of producing an album which is heavy, yet organic, the guitars have heft, the drums and bass keep a solid foundation, and there is enough room for the other instruments to have a place in the mix, my only slight complaint is that when the tracks are at their ‘busiest’ the mix can sound a little stretched and a bit bloated, and the kick drums at the fasted tempos can sound a little bit over processed, but that is me being ultra-critical

In conclusion a great album from a very talented band, I will definitely be coming back to this one, and I’ll keeping an eye out on what I hope is a bright future.

Exocrine release 'Maelstrom' via Unique Leader on June 26th

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