Reviewed: March 2023
Released: 2023, From the Vaults
Reviewer: Simon Wiedeman
Exelerate are a power metal/thrash band from Denmark for fans of Megadeth, Anthrax, and Dio. Their style is old school yet new, flashy and with hints of prog. The vocalist often sings high-pitched parts that are just as skilled as the instruments. They are on From The Vaults Records, and they released their self titled debut album on 10th March, 2023. Every song on the LP tells the story about how mankind has tendencies for dominance and submission. The musicians are extremely proud of what they’ve created and it has been practiced for years in rehearsal studios. The band will be touring with their album’s music in 2023 and they have always had a huge focus on how their music is perceived in a live setting. They know how to capture the audience’s attention and keep it.
‘Arrival’ begins the album with a clean and sweet guitar sound, think the intro of Van Halen’s ‘Year to the Day’ just not as lengthy. After just a few seconds, the whole band comes in with harmonised distorted guitars, with an Iron Maiden sound. Sadly however, the ideas aren’t particularly interesting. Lighter guitars soon come again, but this time with drums, bass and vocals behind them. The atmosphere is calmly positive in a way that suggests the album won’t be too thrilling. Not necessarily boring, just not wild. The soloing that follows isn’t bad, it’s fairly melodic but again, doesn’t really thrill. But shock horror!… ‘No Escape’ is a far faster, thrashier track. The guitars are improved and the way the bass plays a contrasting pattern at times, is genuinely effective. Super exhilarating stuff but not constantly so, so the track never gets boring, even if one of the riffs sounds a fair bit like Megadeth’s ‘Holy Wars’. Also think Maiden’s ‘Be Quick or be Dead’ but even more exciting. The IM song similarly has that great guitar and bass contrast going on. Maybe that’s where Exelerate got their ideas from…
‘Spawn Of Satan’ starts with an evil doom chord progression before switching to a rampant ‘Hell Awaits’ era Slayer feel. They’ve wowed again! By switching such contrasting tempos so quickly, they really do excite more than the vast majority of similar bands out there. The drumming is far from sloppy but it’s just that little bit ahead of the beat, creating a genuine sense of chaos. The guitar soloing is pretty flashy here, but unlike the beats it is more in time which is perhaps a shame. A tiny criticism, but then again, you can overdo things. As far as intensity goes, these guys get an A plus in this tack. Things slow down again but the doom is gone, and is replaced by a triumphant yet slightly sombre instrumental section with more harmonisations. Then when you think the song is about to end, the thrash is back. Another great surprise. When the double kick blasts came in soon after it was so genuinely thrilling I almost laughed. The doom finally returns at the very end, gets developed for a few seconds and then everything is over. Great, intelligent stuff that is a million miles away from dull.
‘Release’ too is exciting, I’m sometimes reminded of Motorhead’s ‘Victory or Die’ but perhaps sadly the chaos isn’t quite so intense, here. The shred soloing is pretty epic though, and the mix of thrash and classic metal is well done. Ah, the real insanity is back with ‘Children of the Sun’. It really does show that computers don’t know what’s best and ultra ‘perfect’ production styles simply can’t compete with so called ‘human flaws’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or ever will hear music as intense as this that is programmed. Sadly the riffs in the song are often fairly typical 80s thrash pedal tone ideas and will be a little dull for heavy music veterans, but there is some pretty cool bass playing in the song and the more power metal harmonised guitars sometimes heard do take the style into interesting directions. You have to wait for them, but that’s fine. Just don’t give up hope and you will be rewarded. The song ends with some Maiden chanted ‘wooahs’ which are nice and fun.
‘God of Man’ begins with another surprisingly sweet clean guitar pattern that brings to mind Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’. The vocals on the other hand slowly build to a more dramatic sound. Power chords follow and the vocals get even more dramatic. Needless to say, a very dramatic song. Hammerfall’s ‘Remember Yesterday’ has a similar structure and style, if softer. However, Exelerate differ in that they soon… speed up! Not as much as before but hey. Expect some more expert guitar wizardry and Maiden melodies. ‘Lethal Assault’ has some early Testament sounds with an attitude filled vocal delivery that reminds me of more modern thrash band Bonded by Blood. The singing in ‘In Between Insanity’ is far more operatic and epic sounding, think ‘Yahweh’ by Stryper. It fits the adventurous song structure that is packed with rip-roaring, calm and spacey moods. Final track ‘Epilogue’ repeats the pleasing ideas in the beginning of the intro song and finishes with a development of them. It’s a poignant way to end such a powerful and thrilling album.
To conclude, the album is far from perfect, but it couldn’t be much more fun. It doesn’t have the best start in the world, but wait just a few minutes, and you’ll be in shock for a good while. When you finally start to relax? Then you’ll get another shock. Then you’ll relax and be pleasantly surprised again. In that sense, the band really do have an outstanding sense of taste. The guitar riffs are nothing new, but the variety of riffs used is fairly decent. The harmonisation of some of the the weaker guitar melodies does improve them at least a little bit, but some of them are so cliched maybe they should just be scrapped. The production may seem just a little bit raw and sloppy to more modern metal fans, but more old school (and wiser) people will find nothing wrong with it whatsoever. The guitar soloing whilst not quite virtuosic is fairly solid and brings to mind guitarists from the Iron Maiden guys to the axeman from Necrophagist. Strongly recommended!