Hall Of Nightmares
Released: 2011, Unsigned
Rochester New York’s Exit Existence is a new band that formed in 2009 from the ashes of other regional death and power metal bands. HALL OF NIGHTMARES is the band’s debut 4 track EP, which serves as an introduction to their hybrid style of power/death/melodic metal while the group busily crafts a full length LP for future release.
The opening title track immediately establishes two positive aspects of this EP: absolutely crushing production values that serve to propel the catchy and melodic opening riff front and center along with tight, accomplished musicianship. The band is blessed with a pummeling beast of a drummer in Daniel James, who moves at a break neck speed and is recorded in brutal clarity, reminiscent of Richard Christy’s drumming virtuosity. As good as James is, he is very nearly matched by the guitar duo of Dom Ly and Alex Low, graduates of the school of melodic twin harmony lines and In Flames speed and precision. Check out “Wreckage of The Damned” to hear the best guitar work on the album and my personal favorite.
Combined with the speedy power metal riffs are the band’s ventures into death metal territory vocally. This is accomplished by inserting bowel grinds in many places, such as the opening to “Blackened Earth.” To be fair, many bands are guilty of this, from new bands like Divinefire, to established bands like Epica. It is starting to resemble the abuse of vocoders in pop music, this random inserting of death metal vocals into music that is decidedly not death metal. Not sure the reason either, because if it is for added variety then alter the tempos, and if it is to make thinks more “heavy” then play death metal. While it serves to add some brutality to what is mostly power metal gallops and speedy melodic riffs, to my ears it sounds out of place. I would have preferred singer Alex Skylar’s melodic vocals for the entire album, which are quite impressive. Despite this minor quibble, the band delivers epic and memorable choruses while keeping the tempo pedal to the floor. Injected at the end of “Blackened Earth” is a tribute to fellow New Yorker, Gilbert Gottfried, revealing the band has a sense of humor despite the serious demeanor of the rest of the songs.
Sonically, Exit Existence most closely resembles COLONY era In Flames with a touch of the speed and precision of Dragonforce, while bearing some resemblance to Christy’s Charred Walls of The Damned as well. The positives are that musically, HALL OF NIGHTMARES is intricate and well-executed, benefiting from a top-notch production job. From a song-craft standpoint, there is room for improvement. Sure there are numerous catchy sections and pieces of songs, but no song that particularly resonated with me. Perhaps it is the speed and complexity of the songs, but they often come across as sounding overly busy and too uniform in tempo and style. That by no means makes this unworthy, as there is much to admire here, but 4 songs of this was just the right amount. Hopefully the full length album will see a little more variety in tempo with less death metal vocals. Fans of the previously mentioned bands will almost certainly enjoy giving HALL OF NIGHTMARES a listen.