Label: Pulverised Records
Release date: 28-02-2020
Exhumation is a death metal outfit from Indonesia. For those not in the know, Indonesia has had a burgeoning underground scene for a while now. They also have a long standing metal festival called Hammersonic which attracts the likes of Suffocation, Morbid Angel and the occasional “big” bands. But when it comes to Indonesian bands breaking geographical barriers, very few can be named. There’s Burgerkill but they are a fairly mainstream metal band. There hasn’t been a band which encapsulates the sounds of the underground and extreme music quite well. This is where Exhumation comes in. They’ve been active for more than a decade and their current members, Ghoul and Bones, are raising that flag even higher with their latest album, Eleventh Formulae.
The band’s sound is very much rooted in old school death metal. But you will also hear guitar sounds very reminiscent of bestial death/thrash à la Deströyer 666. I also heard a similarity with the eccentric Norwegian death metal scene comprising bands like Obliteration, Diskord and Execration. The riffing is quite primal and simplistic but at a thrash-like tempo and a dirty raw-ish production, the songs can be quite hard-hitting. The vocals are raspy but mostly muffled because of the production values. If you enjoy bands on the Iron Bonehead or NWN! Prod roster, then Exhumation would be right up your alley.
Mors Gloria Est, the album opener, starts off quite strong. Inferno Dwellers mixes it up a bit with a doom-y build up but soon gets back to normalcy with the Exhumation sound that you will get used to. The guitar solos cut through the thick atmosphere like sirens. Again, very D666-like. The rest of the tracks feature similar attributes. While in my mind, I can appreciate what Exhumation is trying to do. It’s crushing death/thrash metal, not in the mainstream sense. But the tracks meld together quite seamlessly and it takes me a while to identify the uniqueness of each one.
In order to offer breaks to the listener, the album does have two interlude-like tracks (both over three minutes long) titled Formulae I and Formulae II. I’m usually not a big fan of ambient/music-less disruptions when I’m listening to albums but here it seems like it offers some relief and possibly a way to identify tracks in the album easily. Blood Trails is by far my favorite track on the album. It starts with a guitar-noodly intro – eerie and ominous. The rest of the track just blends in so perfectly. The riffs are headbang-worthy and the tempo changes make this a really well composed track. The album closer, Formulae III – Eleventh Vessel, starts off with mumbling death chants – possibly trying to summon something evil. At the 1:30 mark, the outro track kicks into mid-tempo riffs without any vocals and that’s how Eleventh Formulae comes to an end.
I personally dig a lot of bands who create this raw atmosphere while playing death metal. It’s not for everyone and it’s hard to appreciate the music when it’s not that decipherable. But that’s just me. Exhumation creates a killer atmosphere and they have a handful of really good hard-hitting tracks. But where the album falls short is its identity and the repetitiveness of some good ideas. With no disrespect to the band, if Eleventh Formulae was an EP with four tracks, strip away those interludes and some of the weaker songs, then I’d have said that this is probably the best EP of the year! But you can’t win it all. Check this album out for the tracks I mentioned and it’s great to hear quality death metal from the Asian underground!
- Ghoul – Guitars
- Bones – Vocals
- Mors Gloria Est
- Inferno Dwellers
- Formulae I: Malediction Bells
- Grandeur Dawn
- Vicious Ecstasy
- Arcane Dance
- Formulae II: Ironheart Rapture
- Ominous Chants
- Blood Trails
- Perdition Spells
- Formulae III: Eleventh Vessel