After releasing their In Hatred’s Flame debut to great and deserved acclaim in the late-00s, these Californians disappeared behind a mire of lineup changes, ramshackle touring and a second album that would have been better promoted out of the trunk of a clown car.
The quartet haven’t let that deter them, returning after an unintentionally unproductive four years and intense study of the collected works of one Yngwie J Malmsteen.
Exmortus always tempered their flashy thrash with a refined classiness, but Slave To The Sword ramps up the neo-classical shredding, baroque racing and Renaissance-era resolutions to heights comparable to whichever Malmsteen work is your favourite. Guitarists Conan Gonzalez and David Rivera prostrate their Exodus, Forbidden and Dragonforce inspirations at the feet of Paganini, Mozart and Beethoven.
The constant scalar runs and rejigging of familiar themes does make this a challenge for non-fret-watchers to absorb in a single sitting, but overall, album number three is a stellar unleashing of the fucking fury.