Review Summary: If what you're yearning for is guitar shred out the ass, then do I have the album for you.
The only way I can describe Exmortus' sound is a culmination of melodeath, thrash, power metal, and Yngwie Malmsteem or if you want to skip the semantics and get straight to the point: they sound like pure ***ing metal. Exmortus have been dealing out unbridled majestic metal since the mid 2000's. But only in the past year have they truly started to make a dent in the metal world. And I'd say that it's primarily due to the music contained on this album I'm about to review right here, Slave to the Sword.
Slave to the Sword makes it's true intentions clear very early on. The opening track "Rising" straight up gives you a blue print of what to expect over the course of the whole album and that is shred. Pure unbridled barbaric shred coming at you from every angle like an attack of hot pokers aimed straight at your ear holes. If you take anything away from the 10 songs featured on this album, it should be that Exmortus are damn good at the guitar. Don't think for a second though that this is all that the album has to offer though, for Exmortus know how to write a good song on top of all of that virtuosity. And when you combine a well written song with the best guitar work I've heard all year you get quite a potent mixture. Just check out the title track, "Foe Hammer", and "From the Abyss". Not only do these songs trample everything in their path at break neck speeds, but they're catchy to boot.
Sadly within the Slave to the Sword's amazing guitar work lies its biggest flaw. Even though the songs individually are memorable shredfests, when they are heard back to back like on the album, you are tired by the time track 5 shows up. Exmortus just haven't learned that sometimes complete and utter excess is not the route to take, that sometimes less actually is more. If there were some nice breaks from the outright shredfest that is every song, it'd make the tracks near the end of the album all the more awesome. Track 8, the instrumental "Moonlight Sonata" tries to do this and while it does succeed at showing off the neoclassical influences and inner Yngwie Malmsteem Exmortus possess it's little to late to break up the somewhat monotonous second half. That being said, the already mentioned "From the Abyss" is an amazingly well written and catchy song that will be sure to wedge itself in your head for quite sometime.
In closing this album is a mighty barbaric war machine with one job and one job only: to shred your face off. If you aren't up for that then you might want to find your metal elsewhere. For those who don't mind guitar virtuosity for dinner and desert, what are you waiting for? This album was made for you!
Overall rating:7.2 out of 10
Recommended songs: Slave to the Sword, From the Abyss, and Moonlight Sonta.