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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Exhorder

Slaughter In The Vatican / The Law

Review by Gary Hill

Hardcore punk and thrash metal are clearly related. In the early days the link was even more obvious. This set featuring two albums by Exhorder really make that clear. The first disc, 1990's Slaughter in the Vatican, makes that very clear. So much of that first album feels like hardcore. The second disc, '92's The Law seems to more solidify the music as thrash. Either way, though, there is a real connection and this rocks like crazy. This new set gathers up both albums in a digipack with an extensive and informative booklet. It makes a great introduction to this act.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Slaughter In The Vatican
                  
Death In Vain

Keyboard elements and weird effects make up the opening of this. That peaks and some scorching metal riffing takes over from there. This is a real pounder. The vocals are growled, screamed and generally in an extreme vein. These guys show off some serious hardcore tendencies as this continues to evolve. There are so many twists and turns on this screamer.

Homicide
This one comes in without a lot of preliminaries and just screams out like crazy. Again, this is very much along the lines of hardcore, but on the metal side of it.
Desecrator
Coming in more plodding and almost stoner metal styled, this has some seriously fierce sound to it. We get more hardcore thrash stuff further down the road of this stomper, though. There are some really insane changes and movements here.
Exhorder

How something this driving and fierce can have a groove, I'll never know, but they somehow pull it off. This is a real highlight of the set. Somehow it just seems to gel and work better than some of the rest does. Yet, it does that without losing any ferocity or intensity. I love the guitar solo on this thing.

The Tragic Period
A percussive element like a heartbeat is at the heart of sound effects and some intricate mellower guitar. That serves as the introduction here. This thing screams out from there with the kind of intensity and ferocity we have to expect by this point. This is another screaming hot cut. It has some particularly strong sections and is another standout.
Legions Of Death
I really love some of the riffing on this screamer. It's another one that manages to stand taller than some of the other music here. Yet, it keeps a lot of the format unchanged.
Anal Lust
Perhaps even fiercer, this is so intense as it gets underway. As you might expect by now, they take this thorough some changes, but manage to keep the intensity and ferocity up throughout.
Slaughter In The Vatican
Gregorian chant vocals start this cut. A killer riff takes over from there, getting the metal underway with style. This  cut is another hardcore meets thrash powerhouse. Around the six-and-a-half-minute mark it drops to an intricate guitar solo with the sounds of a baby crying over the top. That movement ends the track and this first CD.
The Law
                      
Soul Search Me

I love the sharp and frantic bit that starts this. The cut drives outward with some serious ferocity from there. There is a drop back later in the track to mellow and melodic movement based on acoustic guitar. That gives way to more serious metal, this time of the more plodding, almost stoner metal variety.

Unforgiven
We get another fierce screamer. This is more along the lines of the first CD, but the thrash is more prominent, while the hardcore is downplayed a bit.
I Am The Cross
While not a big change, this is a killer screaming hot tune. It's a solid entry to the track list.
Un-Born Again
I love the bass work on parts of this. It is another track that has a real groove to it. It's still screaming hot.
Into The Void
Here they cover Black Sabbath. As that initial riff comes in, they have my undivided attention. They play this pretty straight, but it does have their own flavors, largely in the vocal department.
The Truth
We're back into fierce and intense zones with this pounding screamer. This thing really earns some serious parental advisories. It's angry and raw, but in a good way. There is a fast paced acoustic guitar section that comes in at the end.
The Law
Here we get another raw song that has plenty of extreme thrash and even some hardcore punk in the mix. This is another that choose in-your-face over subtle for the bulk, but then it drops to a melodic, mellow twists mid-track before firing up into a screaming hot, but less raw, movement from there. This evolves back toward the zones from whence it came, but the mellow part is heard again along with some driving thrash jamming.
Incontinence
The opening section on this is more along the lines of a stoner metal sound. It's so intense, and they build out without changing the tempo into more pure thrash for a time. The pace quickens, but not to the level of some of that other music here. This piece evolves and twists and turns with some smoking hot thrash metal style as it drives forward. This instrumental turns rawer later.
(Cadence Of) The Dirge
I dig the driving metal ferocity of this thing. This track is driving and more along the lines of some of the other music here. The vocals on this make me think of Rob Zombie just a bit. The little weird drop to mellower, melodic music is interesting, if a little odd. They twist that to a full variant at the end of the track with intricate acoustic guitar painting great tapestries on the closing movement.
 
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