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February 1 2005
Exumer - Fire & Damnation
Highly enjoyable comeback album from the German cult thrashers
Exumer’s cult thrash metal status is largely attributed to the fact that in the five short years they were together and released two studio albums; they were one of the first bands who managed to win over the hearts and horns of thrash fans, not only domestically but also in newly metal-plagued countries like Brazil where Possessed by Fire (1986) and Rising from the Sea (1987) were domestically released throughout the 1980s. Riddled with internal strife and conflict, Exumer eventually broke up in 1990.
Almost 25 years after Rising from the Sea, Exumer is back with a third studio album in Fire & Damnation. The album comes off the back of a series of shows the band did during 2009 and 2010 after officially reuniting in 2008 at the hands of original members Mem V. Stein (vocals) and Ray Mensh (guitars). The other band members presently include T. Schiavo (bass), H.K. (guitars) and Matthias Kassner (drums).
On the whole, Fire & Damnation is 33 minutes of very enjoyable thrash. Exumer is old-school and they have done a great job here by just sticking to the basics. There is plenty of speed, catchy rhythm and a smattering of blistering guitar solos; all coated in the smooth production work done by Waldemar Sorychta (Therion, Sodom, Moonspell). The album is therefore old-school in spirit but contemporary in its polish. Stein’s vocals are menacing and brandish Exumer’s apocalyptic messages with good authority, albeit if his voice often seems a little swamped amidst the band’s overall sound.
The title track, ‘Fire & Damnation’, is a strong opening number – great energy and intensity straight out of the gate and packed with wailing guitar solos and chunky riffs. ‘Waking the Fire’ has a classic diabolical feel to it and is wound around really catchy rhythm. ‘Fallen Saint’ is a fantastic thrash song. Stein’s voice sinks into a deeper sense of wretchedness and really stands firm against the shredding riffs and rolling drum blasts. And then there is ‘I Dare You’ which is filthier than any of the other songs and crashes along in true ‘80s style with a drilling Kerry King-esque guitar solo.
Exumer’s cult status back in the 1980s would also not have been complete without suitably odd and somewhat corny album artwork. Both Possessed by Fire and Rising from the Sea brandished a Jason Voorhees type figure sporting a hockey mask with three spikes sticking out the top of it. Fire & Damnation keeps with tradition but in more updated fashion – just the mask; no wiry-looking figure staring perversely back at you.
Fire & Damnation is a great showing of thrash from one of the genre’s classic acts. This album is one hell of a way to shake off the cobwebs. Welcome back Exumer.
(Metal Blade Records/Riot! Entertainment)
Added: May 18th 2012
Reviewer: Simon Crawley
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