Review Summary: Perhaps one of the best comebacks of the year, Fire & Damnation is raw and high energy thrash with a modern sound and nostalgic feel.
While the metal scene has changed and many bands’ have come and gone, thrash has never truly died. The late 1990’s saw thrash at its lowest point, but by the early 2000’s a new generation of metal heads hungered for the raw and brutal music. The 2000’s saw a moderate resurgence of the genre, with many old-school acts reforming and finding success. Now, it’s Exumer’s turn. Formed in Germany in 1985, Exumer are grizzled veterans of thrash, and their debut album “Possesed by Fire” is highly regarded among fans of the genre. However, the band decided to call it quits in 1991. In 2008, the remaining band members reunited and started work on their third studio album. Fire & Damnation is Exumer’s attempt at a comeback, and is their first album almost twenty-five years.
Exumer aren't necessarily trying to re-invent their sound, instead they cling to their roots and put forth raw, fast, and brutal thrash similar to Slayer, but they also include technical guitar playing reminiscent of Razor. The band aims for short tracks full of energy and aggression, and they pull it off well here as there is no filler, no drawn-out songs, and very little repetition. The album packs quite a punch despite is short length, and the instruments hold your attention with catchy riffing, audible bass lines, and energetic drum performances. The album also has fantastic production, with a clear and modern sound and good guitar tone, yet it also retains that nostalgic and raw feel you get from classic 80’s releases, which is quite an accomplishment.
The vocals on the other hand do little to stand out. The band’s vocal performance consists of abrasive yelling with little to no variation in style, yet the vocals don’t detract from the album, rather, they are tolerable and consistent with this band’s overall attitude and style; however this does remain the one real weakness to be found in this album. Another small complaint is that the band does little to expand their sound, with old school thrash being there main foray. If you’re like me though, all you need is that old-school sound and you’re instantly hooked. This is an extremely heavy album that sounds like it’s straight out of 1988, and any self-respecting thrash fan will find something to stick his flag in.
A raw, heavy and brutal sound, catchy riffing, and good production are what this album has to offer those willing to seek it out. Exumer does a lot of things right here, and managed craft an album worthy of your listen. This albums stands above most standard issue thrash we have heard this year. And while Fire & Damnation may not quite be on the same level as the band’s debut, this is certainly one of the best (and shortest) comeback albums of the year. Even after all those dormant years, the guys in Exumer still had a good album in them. Who knew?