The thing with gifted extreme metal musicians is that you never quite know what to expect from the songwriting.
There have been great examples of the subgenre, like Atheist and Believer, as well as many less sterling ones. Happily, Exmortus stride the line between ability and masturbation rather well, rarely allowing their technical impulses to career out of control.
While they hail from LA, you’d swear they were from Germany, thanks to Conan’s Mille Petrozza-esque vocals and their general approach to thrash with dual roots in classical and epic trad. Crucially, they understand that fiddly time signatures make it much harder to bang your head, instead bolting their twin-guitar flourishes onto more straightforward rhythms.
Stand-out track Relentless is a brilliant example of a classy thrasher with a killer verse-riff, while Black Sails really helps pace the album with its slower, Priest-like panorama. Even the obligatory indulgent instrumental Appassionata manages to behave itself fairly well. Ultra-memorable classics still elude Exmortus, but nevertheless we salute them.