While we think of the most severe punishments as ones involving physical pain and torture—often ending in death or something close—historically, this isn’t necessarily the case. While beheadings and hangings—even being drawn and quartered or burned alive—are go-to death sentences for many of history’s most famous tales, there are several instances where, rather than something as simple and finite as death, something more bitter and soul-smothering was assigned:
Napoleon, Seneca, even Dante (you know, the one with the Inferno) were subjected to this; rather than drained of life by direct, visceral and violent means, they were left to simmer with the slow, torturous burn that is found as being sent away to exist pointlessly: no purpose, no companionship, no company. In a similar way, Australian deathcore band inflict precise and pure agony in a way that makes death look like a reward—and just as one who is exiled may be alone, these talented titans of crushing aggression find themselves without equal when it comes to brutality and heaviness. Their self-titled full length album is equal parts I, Valiance, yesteryear’s Thy Art is Murder and a little bit of that intangible Aussie devastation that adds pure, poignant and powerful punishment to every note and syllable played and screamed. Exile is pure evil—fast, sharp and pissed—that leaves the listener begging for death, even though there is no one out there to hear them.
Exile’s debut full-length release is distilled violence—pure, straight from the source and unadulterated by love, kindness or happiness. Exile grabs the listener by the throat and shakes every ounce of life out of them—starting with Brandon Lees’ blistering blast beats and incredibly percussion, ranging all the way to the lacerating fretwork from guitarists Jack Broadhurst and Matt Sorenson. Lees wastes no time—as right from the get-go on “Apex,” he is nothing short of immaculate, channeling the likes of Boris the Blade, Within Destruction and Infant Annihilator to create a platform of punishing percussion that takes no prisoners and is completely without remorse. Whether it’s his uncanny speed throughout “The Butcher” and “Victimology,” or the completely unexpected solo that makes the latter one of the most straight-up mindblowing modern deathcore tracks of 2016, Lees’ drumming is one of Exile’s most defining aspects—especially where he works with bassist Daniel Lohrey during back-breaking, slam-tinted segments like the climactic breakdown on “Victimology,” or the riff-driven segments of “Daughters of Chaos.” Even while Broadhurst and Sorenson are going absolutely bonkers with malicious, murderously intense riffs and grooves, Lohrey and Lees don’t let up one bit—making Exile the true lesson in intensity that it is. The low end provided by Lohrey and Lees, however, isn’t to detract from this quintet’s crushing and creative guitar work. Broadhurst and Sorenson sound like what would have come of Thy Art is Murder if they would have kept up the Infinite Death vibe into 2016. From the first notes of “Apex,” through “Victimology” and to the very end of “Primordial,” the duo are as dynamic as they are devastating—combining straight-forward slam-tinted aggression with stellar, scathing intensity and technicality in a way that will turn even veteran fans of heavy music into inexperienced piles of pulp. True, bitter, brutalizing aggression is what awaits the listener at the hands of Exile’s capable hands; nothing more, nothing less.
Exiles don’t just rip and tear with precise, pummeling instrumentation, however. Their vocal approach is far from subtle—as frontman Joel Taylor abandons any sense of serenity and ethereality he might have had a tedious grip on once he lets out the first furious roars of “Apex.” And one Taylor starts, there is truly no stopping him. He is a juggernaut, bringing carnal, crushing hatred and visceral putridity to every syllable he spits, ruthlessly shearing flesh from bone with little more than his own voice. In doubt after hearing “Apex?” Continue on to “Victimology,” or the catchy-yet-cruel wordplay in “Gravelord.” All the way until “Primordial” comes to a close, Taylor combines endurance and energy with his sprawling range and dynamic patterning to create a uniquely engaging experience that captures the listener’s attention without detracting from Exiles’ excellent musicianship. Where talented vocalists aren’t too tough to come by in 2016 (and no one is complaining), even among the upper echelons of deathcore vocal talent, few can rise to the level that Taylor so proudly claims as his own.
Exile take the nostalgic, relentless spirit of deathcore’s past and give it a beefy, brutal new body to inhabit. Tightly-written, dynamically played, devastatingly heavy and technical enough to appeal to purists of shred-tinted death metal and technical death metal as well, Exile are hatred incarnate—but a hatred incarnate that has spent the last several years working towards crafting a synchronized and sinister display of coordinated chaos that wreaks pure havoc on the listener in the most enjoyable way they’ve likely had all year. Blast beats meet head on with bone-grinding, blood-curdling breakdowns and slam-tinted, super-catchy creatively heavy deathcore. So even if you were to be exiled, it wouldn’t be so bad if you had this album to listen to.
For Fans Of: Thy Art is Murder, Martyr Defiled, Boris the Blade, Oceano, Despised Icon
By: Connor Welsh