It’s probably been said on this blog only a million times, but it deserves to be said once again. Traditional sounding metal is having a heyday in 2019. But when we’ve been talking about that, it’s usually under the guise of something 70s sounding or power metal that’s somehow not a complete cheese fest. However, we’re also seeing a number of bands employing proto-thrash sounds, like Haunt or Hell Fire. Along with the return of the sound, some older bands are coming out of the woodwork to make their mark along with the wave. Germany’s Exumer is continuing their comeback with this year’s Hostile Defiance.
If you’re not familiar with the Euro-thrashers, Exumer originally formed in Wiesbaden in 1985 by then bassist and current vocalist Mem V. Stein and guitarist Ray Mensh. The two remain the only original members of the band now. Exumer produced 2 demos and 2 records but broke up in 1989, suffering a similar fate to many of the bands out of the German thrash metal scene. They reformed in 2001 for a short stint of shows and officially reunited in 2008. They have put out 2 records since then, 2021’s Fire & Damnation and 2016’s The Raging Tides. While not the biggest of the German bands, Exumer saw some level of success and upper middle reviews of their records.
It seems like Exumer is very consistent on that front. Hostile Defiance is actually a really solid Euro-thrash album. It’s got everything you’d want out of a European thrash metal album. It’s chock full of melodic riffs, sing-shouting vocals, and over the top lyrical imagery. The guitar solos on Hostile are fun melodies that are lower on the guitar acrobatics but high on the drama. If you’re in the mood for a newer sounding Euro-thrash record, then Hostile Defiance certainly meets the standard.
Listen to any track of this record and you’ll get what you came for. The title track is the exemplar of the album. “Hostile Defiance” starts off with the melo-thrash riff you’d expect from this kind of band. The song chugs along with that same aggression through a standard affair of songwriting. There’s a kind of formula musicians sometimes have with songwriting, and “Hostile Defiance” sticks to that formula as do the rest of the songs on the record. It’s a serviceable song on an above average produced record.
That being said, there’s nothing about this record that particularly stands out. Everything on it meets your expectations, but nothing is particularly extraordinary about it. It sort of just is. It’s not blowing your mind with any kind of exceptional music talent. There’s no real changes to the songwriting, and there aren’t many instances of one musician or another really standing out.
The long and short of this record is that it’s neither great nor terrible. It’s good in that it’s a well-made product, there are no glaring errors or mistakes left on the album, and there aren’t any failed experiments. It’s just an average record. You’re not writing home about it, but you’re also not ranting about how awful it is. If you’re a Euro-thrash fan, you’ll enjoy it. But make up your own mind about it. I welcome the discussion and a mind opener.
Hostile Defiance is available April 5 via Metal Blade Records.