Released: 2012, End of The Light Records
Nearly coinciding with Exumer’s first album in 25 years is the reissue of Exumer’s debut album, POSSESSED BY FIRE on End of the Light Records. This album is part of my focus this month to honor and acknowledge some of the founders of German thrash metal. Exumer was an underground favorite of many thrash metal fans back in the late 1980s. Their debut album established them as one of the leaders of the second tier of German thrash bands that closely followed behind Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, both chronologically and qualitatively.
POSSESSED BY FIRE is an album that reflects its influences with Slayer and Exodus being the main inspirations musically. Impressively, Exumer arrived more fully realized and less raw than Kreator or Sodom was on their debuts. Singer Mem Von Stein’s style is a mix of Paul Baloff and Mille Petrozza’s aggressive craw. Guitarists Ray Mensh and Bernie Siedler are a powerful tandem, playing articulate and technical riffs with plenty of speed, recalling the incredible prowess of Exodus’s H&H team. The song structures follow a pattern of mid-paced middle sections usually bookended with bursts of speed. The production is likewise pretty decent for this style and time period, the drums really being the only poorly recorded instrument, which the reissue has not improved. After a brief intro, the album kicks off with the title track, a pure blast of state-of-the- art thrash back in 1986. However, it is the next track “Destructive Solution” where the band offers a more varied style than any of their country mates, the last half of the song containing a tasteful melodic section with a well-crafted guitar solo before closing with two separate Slayer worship riffs. “Fallen Saint” is probably the band’s signature track and most beloved, the main chorus riff being a virtual rip-off of Slayer’s “Black Magic” riff but damn worthy of a head bang all the same.
The reissue includes three bonus tracks, two being demo versions of “A Mortal In Black” and “Silent Death” which feature expectedly bad production, characteristic of demos from that era. “Scanners” is the third track that never made the cut for any of the albums and upon listening it is pretty evident why, the production and vocals being a putrid bottom-of- the -well din. As for who is singing on these three tunes I cannot tell, but it does not sound like Von Stein or RISING FROM THE SEA album vocalist Paul Arakari. Suffice it to say that if you already have the album, there is no need to pick this up for the bonus tracks.
Largely propelled by the enthusiastic reception to POSSESSED BY FIRE, Exumer became one of the first thrash bands to make an impact in Third World countries, touring extensively and positioning themselves to be one of the premier thrash acts of the latter 80s. Sadly, they would only release one more respectable but lesser album before calling it quits until releasing a new album in 2012. For fans of 80s thrash and historians of German thrash in particular, POSSESSED BY FIRE is an essential album and should definitely be acquired if you missed it the first time around.