During a period of high temperatures (middle of August), Athens-based thrashers Exarsis welcomed us to D Studio for the listening session of their forthcoming album. “New War Order” is due to be released in Europe and USA in the middle of September through the German label MDD and Japan in October through Spiritual Beast.
Taking into account the previous three albums of the band, I assume that if Exarsis were a football team at an alternate, sick football reality, they would play according to 0-0-10 system; that means, all of them attack, with none player staying behind. In music terms, that’s the kind of thrash metal these guys delivered us until now: pure, fast paced, aggressive thrash, based mainly on the Bay area tradition. However, their new effort signifies a somehow different direction, as the band has adopted a more heavy metal and groovy approach, without rejecting completely their aggressiveness.
There are two main elements in “New War Order” that enabled them to deviate from their previous route: Nick Tragakis’ vocals, which have a more prominent role than the previous record, without remaining solely on Sean Killian’s territories, and the more technical parts of some songs.
The album starts off with a typical intro with rhythm guitars and pre-recorded vocals, which introduces us to “Twisted Logic", where dominant rhythmic riffing, combined with melodic parts, give a less intense – compared to the band’s previous standards - speed.
In “Underground”, a rather mid-tempo song, we notified Achilleas’ excellent fast drumming and Nick’s high-pitched vocals, which collaborate perfectly with gang vocals.
“General Guidance” demonstrates Exarsis’ traditional aggressive image with up-tempo, intense riffing. Vocals are effectively used throughout the song, increasing its quality.
“Just Buried” starts with rather heavy, rhythmic riffs, while Nick’s vocals trade back and forth with crowd shouts, attracting the listener’s interest.
The other songs of the album, as the band members told us, feature longer duration and several tempo changes, indicating the above-mentioned approach of the band.
Hence, “Prophet for Profit” is a less aggressive song, with tempo changes supported by precise, appealing drumming. We liked the abrupt transition from rhythmic riffing to the acquainted Exarsis’ high speed.
“Combined Disasters” features a similar structure, containing a melodic section that improves the listening experience. Also, it’s the first song in the band’s history without gang vocals; that must be a major breakthrough, according to the bassist’s sarcastic humour!
“HAARP Weapon” has up-tempo riffing and drumming, mainly at the first part. Surprisingly, some riffs indicate an influence from death metal bands.
The album’s last song, “Human Project”, is an 8-minute synopsis of what Exarsis do in “New War Order’. It starts with intense, solid riffs, while a higher tempo follows through a harmonic combination of guitars and drums that give us an appealing outcome. Also, it contains the faster and most well-worked lead guitar solo. In brief, “Human Project” excels with its technical parts and changes, constituting the most complex song in Exarsis’ discography.
“New War Order” represents the band’s willingness to introduce something new to the audience and they seem to succeed. It is rather difficult to have a thorough opinion about the new album, as Exarsis appear to have progressed since their last release, approaching heavy metal borders. However, “New War Order” is Exarsis’ highest-quality release, supported by clear production, without unnecessary technological tricks.
We look forward to reviewing in full detail New War Order, as the diversity of the album creates the need for more listening sessions.
I and Myth of Rock wish best of luck to Exarsis about the forthcoming European tour among Onslaught, Artillery and Chronoshpere. Cheers!