Los Angeles-based neo-classical extreme metal mavens Exmortus return on new album, “Necrophony.” Four years in the making, the group’s sixth album offers nothing but savage rebirth and fierce renewal. “Necrophony” marks a significant turning point—one foretold by the Legions of the “Undead” EP in 2019—for the Angelenos. Not only have they emerged from the throes of the pandemic stronger, faster and crazier, they’ve signed on to global metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast. The passion and fury of lead-off single “Oathbreaker” is merely the tip of Exmortus’ darkest tower. Follow-on singles like the powerful “Mind of Metal” and “Storm of Strings,” a whistle-stop, no-joke cover of Greek-American composer Yanni interpreting Vivaldi’s “The Storm,” add greatly to Exmortus’ masterly oeuvre.
Exmortus was founded in 2002. The group issued a bevy of well-received demos and EPs that culminated in debut In Hatred’s Flame in 2008. Since then, Gonzalez—now flanked by specialists Phillip Nuñez (bass), Chase Becker (guitars), and Adrian Aguilar (drums)—has gone on to release four more fan-favorite full-lengths. Exmortus have toured with Amon Amarth, Obituary, Death Angel, and more, playing gigs in North America and Europe. The group’s highlights have also included a stint with thrash legends Exodus at industry lighthouse event NAMM and a coveted spot on the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise. Necrophony, a portmanteau of “necro” and “phony” (or “dead sounds”), is Exmortus bigger, badder and wickedly restless.
Written from a fresh slate, Necrophony’s origins can be traced to preludes “Masquerade,” “Overture,” and the intro to “Children of the Night.” Once Exmortus had the feel down, they settled on expanding on the motifs by forging Viennese sophistication with metal might. Careful observers will hear Exmortus’ clever use of the album’s musical theme throughout its 12-song range. That includes “Darkest of Knights” and the aforementioned “Children of the Night,” as well as Necrophony’s shorter bursts of bravado in “Oathbreaker” and “Beyond the Grave.” The most important attributes were, however, vibe and Exmortus’ careful crafting of their next-gen sonic fingerprint.
Whereas previous albums up through 2018’s “The Sound of Steel” have been predicated on heroic fantasy/sword & sorcery, Necrophony turns a decidedly darker page. Exmortus have gone from a “Conan the Barbarian” and “Gladiator” aesthetic to something blacker, more nefarious as illustrated by the eeriest and evilest Lovecraftian and Tolkien-esque tales. There’s even a classic horror thing happening. This is, of course, a reflection of our immediate world, and the darkness that’s engulfing everything in it.
Exmortus invited Renaissance man Zack Ohren (Fallujah, Immolation) to return as engineer, producer, mixer and mastering ace on Necrophony. Certainly, the team that had cemented the group’s three previous albums into the annals of metaldom was going to work yet again. With Ohren at the helm, Exmortus holed up in Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, CA. Necrophony was fast-tracked in just under two weeks. The result is a clap of virtuosic metal sure to leave fans battered, bloodied, and hungry for more violent opulence.
With “Oathbreaker,” “Mind of Metal” and “Storm of Strings” ringing darkened ears Exmortus’ paroxysmal ascent to extreme metal’s upper echelons is guaranteed with Necrophony. Bow in reverence to the high-flying, six-stringed dynasts now.