EXMORTUS ”In Hatred’s Flame”

Heavy Artillery Records – 2008 – USA

The choicest variety of death metal is like hot, burning piss. Inundating whatever it touches in, well, hot, burning piss. Such is the case with California natives Exmortus and their hot, burning debut “In Hatreds Flame,” an album that grabs the usual metal clichés by the balls and pulls them in unexpected directions. While a cursory glance at the song titles reveal a disturbing lack of brain cells, then again, metalheads won’t be drawn to “In Hatreds Flame” for the lyrics because the sonic firestorm this quartet unleashes on the 11 tracks inside is unbelievable.

Exmortus forsake any subtlety to go for the throat on the title track, which opens the album with a heady mix of crushing decibels, ear splitting guitars, and singer-guitarist Balmore’s caveman vocals. At its core, the Exmortus sound is an aural mess; this bare semblance of death metal that’s stuck in a swamp of neoclassical dueling guitars, thrash energy, and Manowarian imagination. Yet no matter how ridiculous the outcome, it adds up to a lot of fun. For proof, try the relentless “Trial By Fire,” whose faster-than-light tempo erupts like an unexpected orgasm. Delicious.

“War Gods” finds itself cast in the same mold as its predecessors, beginning with raw power and then devolving into instrumental masturbation that deflates in a loud outburst of wailing guitars. “Onward to Battle,” “Valor and Might,” “Axes of War” and “Glory on the Battlefield” are a succession of tracks drenched in Boltthrower worship, Dragonforce excess, Chuck Schuldiner’s finest work on Death, and the cheesy appeal of 3 Inches of Blood. Amidst the chaos, the listener appreciates how Exmortus have found a niche with their peculiar brand of death metal mayhem by album one.

Track eight, “Onslaught,” is an apt description of the band’s approach to music. Boiling with cartoonish nihilism and packing enough rapid fire drumming to offset the excessive guitar solos whose volcanic intensity bury the song’s vocals. The band adds a touch of grim atmosphere—but only a little—on the asinine “Wrath of Vengeance” until they finally bow out with “Fimbulwinter” in all its Dungeons n’ Dragons glory. “In Hatreds Flame” has established Exmortus as nothing less than a force of nature. Want a better metaphor for their unbridled power? Imagine bathing your face in hot, burning piss.


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