Album: Molten Giant
Label: Unique Leader Records
Genre: Progressive Death Metal, Technical Death Metal
Release Date: 17 August, 2018
After a long hiatus fueled by a real life vacation, I’m back at it with another European progressive technical death metal group (what a mouthful). Exocrine hails from Bordeaux, France and formed back in 2013. Their sound conjures up bands like, The Faceless, Necrophagist, Gorod, and even Winds of Plague. Molten Giant is the third full-length from Exocrine and their first for Unique Leader Records. Molten Giant is a kaiju themed concept album about the titular beast (who also graces the cover) destroying the world as we know it, and the nuclear war between it and the surviving few humans. From the description of the band and this record, I have purchased my ticket onto the hype train.
The album starts out ferociously with the opening one-two of Scorched Human Society into Hayato. Both of these tracks begin with soaring leads that develop into more cohesive compositions, the latter more so than the former. As this album is only 8 tracks and lasting 36 minutes ( with an 8.5 minute epic closer) the experience goes by very quickly, with many of the riffs condensed into “sneeze and you’ll miss it” moments. The record feels a bit forgettable and quickly put together between Hayato and the closer Shape of (The/A?) New World, sans a few nasty breakdowns throughout.
The first thing that stood out to me on this album was the production, it was a noticeable step up from their previous effort Ascension. Every instrument sounded clear and had their place in the mix, except for the bass unfortunately. I found the bass to be too buried behind the rest of the music in this record. There were a few tracks where I could single out the bass, like Molten Giant and Shape of New World, and the bassist is no slouch. I was left wanting more of the bass on every listen.
The guitar work on this album is the shining jewel for me. The riffs ooze technicality, and it feels like the band was testing themselves to come up with as many tempo changes and dizzying solos as possible. Hayato is an extreme example of this challenge Exocrine’s guitarists have presented themselves with. The song starts with the chorus which is an extremely fun tapping riff that leads you throughout the song and dives immediately into a furious solo. The song continues on this path before the bludgeon you with the breakdown.
The drums are also astounding, especially in the instrumental bit in the middle of Shape of New World. The rest of the band takes a well-earned break and rides in the backseat while the drummer has what feels like an impromptu jazz performance that is just stellar. Unfortunately the drums have an overproduced and borderline artificial sound which I find to be all too common in tech-death. This is a small complaint though, and doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in the tech-death community.
The vocal delivery is one of the areas where the record fell flat for me. It’s not that the performance was bad or phoned in, just the style is not a vocal delivery that I enjoy listening to. The vocals brought me back to my high school days, reminding me of Winds of Plague’s Decimate the Weak or The Faceless’ debut album Planetary Duality. When the vocals were more layered and had a more diverse sound to them I found myself enjoying it more. Personally I would’ve preferred if the vocals were less of the focal point and the instruments were instead at the forefront.
Like the Kaiju films that this record draws inspiration from there is a lot of surface-level enjoyment and razzle dazzle sprinkled throughout the experience, however when you get into the actual product there is very little of actual merit. Exocrine’s Molten Giant is a fun short tech-death record, but there are very few moments that are going to draw me back to listen to the album except for Hayato. This year has been dense with impressive and memorable tech death records like Obscura, Rivers of Nihil, Alkaloid, and Soreption (Not to mention the impending Beyond Creation and possible Fallujah records) that I just can’t justify a reason to revisit this record. Guitar nerds and the die hard Planetary Duality fans will want to check this record out though. It may not be for me necessarily, but Exocrine is a talented group that will appeal to others.
1. Scorched Human Society
4. Molten Giant
7. Behind The Wall
8. The Shape of New World
Total Playing Time: 36:24
I’m pretty great. Just ask me, I’ll tell ya.