Released: 2013, Ulterium
EXODUS is the third album for Slovakia’s Signum Regis, the band that morphed from Vindex into something better.
EXODUS is the story of Exodus, as in the chapter of the bible that describes the plight of the Israelites in ancient Egypt. This is a fascinating concept album and while many bands have done songs on this very topic, this 11 song, 50-minute album really stretches out and explores the story very nicely. The overall effect is enhanced by a attractive piece of cover art by Felipe Franco depicting the parting of the Red Sea.
Founder and brainchild Ronnie Konig has really taken it to the next level. He enlisted uber-producer Tommy Hansen who helps make the band sound fantastic. Last album Goran Edman handled the vocals but on this album there are a tone of guest vocalists as is often the case with this giant concept projects. Guests include, Goran Edman (ex. Yngwie Malmsteen), Lance King (ex. Pyramaze, Balance of Power), Daísa Munhoz (Vandroya, Soulspell) Samuel Nyman (Manimal), Mayo Petranin (Castaway), Eli Prinsen (Sacred Warrior), Matt Smith (Theocracy), Michael Vescera (ex. Yngwie Malmsteen), Tom Winkler (Gloryhammer). Talk about an all-star line-up! Each voice is distinct and unique as they do various roles and characters. Musically, Exodus is a fierce beast with almost every song hitting warp speed with pounding double-kick drums driving the songs along. The vocals are over the top with mighty screams, roars, anguish and agony bringing the story of the tortured souls to life. There is a longish intro running two minutes to add some atmosphere but after that it is power Metal bliss. There are a few short interludes and/or introductory segments for rhe most part the albums rages. There is a bit of eastern-sounding flair added by keyboards but those are kept to a minimum, but appearing most prominently in the instrumental ‘Last Days Of Egypt’. EXODUS is one of my favourite concept albums this year ranking up highly with Avalon, Avantasia and Gloryhammer.
I want to end this review with a bit of an extended commentary about the one cover tune on the album. The band choose to cover ‘Sole Survivor’, the lead-off song on the 1994 Helloween album, MASTER OF THE RINGS, the first album to feature Andi Deris on vocals. This is a telling choice for a number of reasons. I’ve heard literally dozens of Helloween covers and almost all of them come from the Hansen or Kiske era (namely the first three albums) and even more specifically from the Keepers albums. This is the first, or one of the very first, covers of an Andi Deris era song. Why is this important? It shows the continuing influence of Helloween on a younger generation of bands like Signum Regis. Even though the song they covered is almost two-decades old, the other Helloween songs that are covered are now almost 25-30 years old. Born in 1982, Konig would have only been five years old when KEEPERS I came out. BY the time MASTER came out in 1994 he was 12 and obviously that album left a strong impression in his formative years. I’m personally very pleased, No, make that delighted, that a guy like Konig recognizes the talent and skill of Deris era Helloween. To me this indicates that Metal is not stagnating, with bands just doing covers of classic, (albeit predictable choices) of classic Maiden, Priest, Helloween but listening to more recent incarnations of those ‘heritage’ bands and taking inspiration from later eras. It is a good sign. Maybe in 20 years a young metal band will be covering a Signum Regis song from EXODUS. We can only hope.