Review Summary: Melodic, crushing, intense, captivating - Return From Exile don't disappoint on their first full length album, mixing things up and bringing you deathcore NOT by the numbers.
Hailing from California, Return From Exile introduce to us their debut self titled album through Standby Records. Through this release the band assure to mix things up within the extreme metal scene and to do so in an imposing, uncompromising style that never lacks musical variety. Amidst the chaos of their melodic sound, the quartet show they are not quarantined to work within the realms of one particular genre, choosing to expand their sound and drawing upon all their influences, some being in the extreme music field, others interestingly, not so.
Opening track/intro “Celebration” immediately makes the listener aware of what they have in store for the next 32 minutes. We are instantly introduced to their fast paced style of playing with a very crisp and intricate dual guitar harmony. “This Party’s Never Over” commences in the same vain, a quick drum intro followed by a fast paced melodic riff maintained throughout the track. We are then acquainted for the first time to the vocal attributes of founding member, Joey Moser. Opening line screamed; ‘enjoy the chaos of this moment’ – something tells me we will. Riffs intertwined around an earsplitting breakdown fits well here and this is a reoccurring theme throughout the 10 songs we go on to experience, as is the incredibly catchy solo.
The guitar work certainly isn’t the only gift this band has been blessed with however. A composition built on a sturdy foundation of drumming that seldom, if ever, gets repetitive. This is one of the most crucial building block that keeps Return From Exile
hammering along right through to the end while sounding fresh, captivating and importantly, heavy. Vocals combined with these fundamentals also compliment their sound perfectly. Moser shows a fearlessness in his performance, changing the rule book somewhat and experimenting with his voice. Screaming like the best in the business and shows no reservations about hitting the high notes, but he also has the ability to slow things down where the music requires it. Bass is a significant part of the sound also – it is audible. A complaint all too recurrent among those who persistently criticize the musicianship of bands within the deathcore scene. Great production also deserves a mention. Clean, not excessively heavy and overall keeps the album sounding precise
Return From Exile
is an album full of fascinating rudiments most people familiar with deathcore would not come to expect. The occasional incorporation of clean vocals, dispersed in several tracks throughout the album (most notably in “The Departed”) is one such example. However, due to the massive diversity and exquisite song structure present, these genre rarities do not sound at all out of place amidst an angry vacuity of riffs and breakdowns (of which there are plenty) as one might expect. They do not serve to compromise the immensity or technicality of the band’s sound. Quite the opposite in fact. Sounding completely confident in their abilities and showing no signs of anxiety about experimenting and coalescing new elements to their aural assault. The melody on this album really is a special achievement from these young Californians, consistently appealing and giving the band their unique sound. For me what sets Return From Exile’s debut apart from other albums of the genre is its capability to hold the listener’s attention right through to the conclusion of the album. Remaining catchy, relevant and loud whilst at no point conceding the raw heaviness component that their sound is based on from start to finish, never resorting to aimless shredding and pummeling in order to make up the minutes. An ability that in my opinion deathcore unfortunately often lacks, so consistently that many would state deathcore is a “dying genre”. Here we find an intriguing band who clearly thinks differently.
Marking the mid-point of excursion, “Fall Back, Rewind” is introduced to us very slowly and differently to any other track on the record. A gentle intro is followed swiftly by yet another mellow dual guitar harmony. This 30 second serenade is followed by something this album is in no small supply of, monstrous brutality. This track utilizes crushing riffs combined perfectly with grinding breakdowns and is an example of the versatility of Return From Exile and a showcase of their abilities. Several great sounding solos and a brief exhibition of Moser’s ability to vary his singing styles sum up what is the stand out track for the demonstration of the exceptional musicianship of this outfit.
As a whole this album is full of contrasting elements and surprises that merge to form a very dark, gripping and different sounding CD to others in its field. One can only imagine the already hugely impressive songwriting and musicianship will improve over time and with practice. A record that proves deathcore can be less basic as critics may think. Being this is the band’s first record, and an impressive one, I feel extremely positive regarding these Californians futures and expect big things to come.
“This Party’s Never Over”
“Destroying The Evolution Of A Shallow Existence”
“Fall Back, Rewind”