Released: 2012, Metal Blade
The global resurgence of thrash has brought back together many a grizzled and veteran band. Finally, after 25 years since the band’s last full length album, 1987’s RISING FROM THE SEA, Germany’s Exumer return with their new album FIRE AND DAMNATION. Original singer Mem Von Stein is back in the fold along with original guitarist Ray Mensh. The rest of the band is new guns, but they bring the requisite amount of aggression and attitude to give FIRE AND DAMNATION a retro feel with modern production. Renowned producer, musician, and engineer Waldemar Sorychta handles production duties giving Exumer their best sounding album to date. Couple Sorcychta with Metal Blade picking the band up and there was considerable hype and expectations from the metal world.
Those expectations are mostly justified. Exumer’s passionate cult following embraced the band from the start and preferred the style of underground thrashing of the band to the bigger and better produced thrash bands from America and Germany in the late 80s. FIRE AND DAMNATION is appropriately a hybrid of POSSESSED BY FIRE and RISING FROM THE SEA, but is speedier and chunkier. Plenty of gang shouted vocals and raging lyrics accompany the pulverizing riffs, manic drumming and thumping bass. Von Stein no longer has the Baloff/Petrozza style, instead employing a much gruffer style, more like a Byrne/Milano combination. Gone also are the mid-paced moshes which only occasionally pop up amongst the speed. Songs hit like a gut punch, fast and hard while clocking in at only about 33 minutes for the entire album. “A New Morality” probably best represents the new Exumer, a blazing tune with memorable riffs and a short heavy breakdown to conclude the song.
The first downside is that two of the songs are re-recorded modernizations of two older tracks from their first two albums, “Fallen Saint” and “I Dare You”. Sure they sound heavier now, but the new “Fallen Saint” fails to capture the vibe of the original, and “I Dare You” was never a great tune in the first place. Second potential downside is that there is essentially no variety, very little to distinguish one track from the next. Positives though are the fist pumping aggression and nostalgic vibe that permeates the album. Everything is well-executed and written perfectly for a riff-centric non-melodic thrash album. Exumer are perhaps closer to the original thrash sound than any other band from the original era still playing. It is clear where Gama Bomb got some of their inspiration from after listening to Exumer again. Evaluated as a whole, FIRE AND DAMNATION is a worthy return, certainly not a perfect album, but packed with enough cool riffs to satisfy most thrash fiends and leave the door open for another Exumer album in the near future.