Is there comfort in predictability? One can certainly argue for the affirmative and claim that summer should always be warm for example or a good night’s sleep will have you feeling better the morning after. On the contrary, predictability can be a precursor of monotony and lethargy as is certainly the case with political speeches or the Spanish football league. While both camps may have their persuasive arguments, the debate is nowhere near settled, as it shouldn’t be, when it comes to music. There will always be musicians who thrive on eclecticism and those who find their sound and stick with it, a case that is fittingly exemplified by Exumer. Having made their debut way back in 1986 with the screamer Possessed by Fire, these German thrash veterans languished in obscurity for the better part of twenty five years only to join the re-thrash party of the twenty first century rather late with Fire and Damnation in 2012; a record that produced little in the way of surprises.
So four years later, the party is well and truly over but the fellows from Exumer are still plugging away and this year sees the release of their fourth full-length The Raging Tides which doesn’t depart from the band’s core sound. The album’s ten tracks amount to an easy thirty five minute listen packed with all the standard fare one expects from thrash metal. This easy listening however does not blossom with repeated listens into something more complex or cerebral, instead it just cycles through the same song structure and the same kind of Slayer-style riffing and vocals. The production job is indeed a well-executed one and serves the music quite adequately but the album’s only saving grace is the lead guitar work. Solos, which can last for as long as forty five seconds, always seem to come in and elevate songs with their energetic delivery.
The likes of “Catatonic” and “Shadow Walker” for example are typical straightforward stuff with no surprises whatsoever and actually drag on a bit. “Welcome to Hellfire” has some better riffing but the whole thing sounds a bit too Slayer-ish, especially the vocals. None of this is made any better by the striking lyrical immaturity of “Sinister Souls” where the words ‘blood, smoke, denial’ are repeated ad nauseam or “There Will Always Be Blood” which says ‘We are out for blood with Satan on our side’. So having never really been at the forefront of the thrash movement, Exumer can be easily brushed off as another copycat, and The Raging Tides doesn’t really make a strong case for them. However, it worthy of mentioning that this is a band that’s been around for more than thirty years though without enough character in their music to set them apart from the masses. Sounds like the ceaseless march of time hasn’t been very kind to them after all these years.