Exist
Hijacking The Zeitgeist


3.5
great

Review

by WattPheasant USER (68 Reviews)
April 30th, 2024 | 21 replies


Release Date: 04/12/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Exist defy expectations by writing a more accessible album. How did they do?

I must confess, I am actively invested in prog rock bands becoming more metal and in metal bands becoming more progressive. It was my longtime devotion to progressive metal that led me to become a fan of Exist back in 2018 - not long after their sophomore album So True, So Bound was released. Like a thoughtful present gifted by Santa Clause to a good child on Christmas morning, Exist’s follow-up album Egoiista was everything I could have reasonably asked for. The near-perfect fusion of philosophical themes with progressive, distorted, and dreamy sonic elements made it a regular play when I was in the mood to indulge. Its compositions thoughtfully build to impactful and awe-inciting vocal melodies, cosmic guitar-driven chord progressions, and tempo-twisting, rhythmic chugs.

While the band’s previous effort represents them at their most grand and progressive, Hijacking the Zeitgeist takes on a more parsimonious approach to songwriting. Coming in at a compact thirty-six minutes with seven tracks, this is certainly intended to foil their past few records. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, Max Phelps adds in a Metal Injection interview that this is akin to the band’s Moving Pictures (an album historic for moving Rush to a more pop-oriented sound). As much as my disposition favors the musical style of Egoiista to Hijacking the Zeitgeist, I do believe that each has contextual value - a warranted time and place. As long as it’s done well, an album exemplifying tight-knit compositions, strong melodies, and candid, modern social commentary (Fear of a Blank Planet haters be damned) will always have a place in my heart.

As one might infer from the zany, yet melodramatic cover art, Hijacking the Zeitgeist is a concept album about the pitfalls and ailments that the internet has in our mental lives; taking on problems like hostile scaffolding, addiction, dehumanization, brain-washing, and the effects of unjust algorithms. A lot of the lyrical writing in the metal world isn’t particularly great, especially in the underground scene, but Exist do a fine job of balancing metaphor with vivid illustration, doing so in a way where their lyrics actively enhance the compositional experience of the music itself. Some of my favorite lyrical moments are on the album’s catchier tracks: for instance on “Thief of Joy”, a song revolving around seeing others' misleadingly amazing lives online, Phelps sings, “To see the devil’s bliss in… suffocating you in your mind.” Another is on the title track regarding those who build careers on controversy, being offensively provocative for money and fame: Phelps growls in his Shuldiner-laden cadence: “He who makes the noise…” Loud tremolo guitar bridge “Takes and wears the crown!” I promise, that bridge goes quite hard.

When it comes to the band’s compositional elements, we still have a satisfying contrast of acoustic and distorted guitars, as well as a contrast between melodic croons and textured gutturals (the true Opethian yin and yang). Additionally, the jazzy, techy rhythm section that has made up the crux of the band’s core sound is still tactfully present. Though all members of the band have a core technical death metal background, their prior focus on melodic hooks and catchy leads has been amplified here, replete with well-placed melodic reprisals and reconfigurations - like the soft vocal melody on “Funeral Toll.”

All of the songs exemplify the technical, yet accessible virtues that Exist is becoming increasingly known for, and they did not significantly skimp out on progressive songwriting as many moments in this album are sincerely expectation subverting - like how the drums backing the main chord progression on “Path to Nowhere” become more bleak and intense as the song goes on, peaking with a flurry of blast beats. That being said, “One Degree Removed From Human” is easily the weakest track on the album as what it presents has been done better by other songs: it has weaker melodies, its solos are not as interesting, and it does drag on a bit too long considering what the album is aiming for.

The most noticeable change Exist incorporates here, aside from their compact songwriting approach, is the album’s mix and production. It seems that as the Exist albums go on, each one is successively louder and more expensive-sounding; each sounding more heavily produced than the last. While I would not say that Hijacking the Zeitgeist is overproduced, it is certainly the most artificial-sounding record, and I think it aesthetically goes along perfectly with the album’s theme.

Overall, this is a solid release from a talented band. It is not quite what I had in mind when excitedly pulling this album up on my computer, and it is not my favorite album of theirs, but I accept it for what it intends to be rather than what I want it to be. And if this sort of paradigm shift is what the band needs to obtain the Limelight (pun intended) they have been desiring, then all the power to them.



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user ratings (19)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
WattPheasant
April 30th 2024


85 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also, this band should definitely be on Metal Archives.

bloc
April 30th 2024


70400 Comments


Agreed with the rating, nothing special but solid prog metal

Hawks
April 30th 2024


90430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album ripz.

DDDeftoneDDD
April 30th 2024


22550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fucking my 22222 comment joke to say that this is more than solid, bc of the balance it achieves between djenty fucked meshuggah and the melodic sections, fresh as fuck. Not too cheesy, not too complex, enough of both, adding weight...hum tasty stuff



bloc is a bummer



tks for reviewing this

DDDeftoneDDD
April 30th 2024


22550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

adding to this there's a "modern" 90's vibe on it, like in the core of Funeral Toll...yeah...winner for me

Hawks
April 30th 2024


90430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Not too cheesy [2]



Exactly why I love it! This type of prog is really good.

Frost15
April 30th 2024


3409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's good. I'm half through and I'm enjoying the jazzy prog elements. Not so keen on the core, djenty elements though, cause they are Periphery-al (done already a trillion times). Vox also lean more towards the djent realm, and I'm not a fan of that but still a fun listen

DDDeftoneDDD
April 30th 2024


22550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Ye

Frosty no balls XD

Tks for listening mate

I don't care bout Periphery either

Hawks
April 30th 2024


90430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hijacking the Men

Frost15
April 30th 2024


3409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ending of t/t rules tbh. And some of the djenty elements that lean more on the metal, Textures-esque side, are quite cool. But I feel the album is marred by the generic djent parts.

Zac124
May 1st 2024


2891 Comments


Great review! Album sounds interesting so will check.

artificialbox
May 1st 2024


2057 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

never heard of this band before but I’m jamming this right now and really enjoying it. good stuff. big fan of the song count to runtime ratio as well.

Hawks
May 1st 2024


90430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I gotta get on this band's previous stuff. This is a ripper.

Gmork89
May 1st 2024


8723 Comments


This is actually really cool. I appreciate the less "perfect" vocals, not that they're bad by any means but its refreshing to not have super poppy djent vocals in something like this.

TheTripP
May 1st 2024


4567 Comments


checking soon queens

Muzz79
May 2nd 2024


3094 Comments


"I must confess, I am actively invested in prog rock bands becoming more metal and in metal bands becoming more progressive." That's a great line. I'm the same

DDDeftoneDDD
May 2nd 2024


22550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great balance between both! Agreed

Hawks
May 17th 2024


90430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Bruh I love this fucking album its so damn good.

metalphil
May 22nd 2024


786 Comments


Didn't realize the singer in this is the guy doing vocals in Death To All

bloc
May 22nd 2024


70400 Comments


I didn't know that either. I thought it was the Obscura guy doing it all.



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