Exarsis - New War Order - (6.5/10)
Published on October 29, 2017
Another thrash revival artist has found their way into my possession, because I obviously can’t get enough of this shit! That wasn’t sarcasm, I really do have a deep love for all the modern thrash acts who worship the ’80s greats. This time it’s the turn of the Greeks in Exarsis to be put under my optimistic scrutiny. The Athens-based headbangers are one of the lucky few modern thrash bands to have carved their own niche into what could be considered a stagnant genre. 2017 has already seen phenomenal releases from the likes of Warbringer, National Suicide and Eruption – but Exarsis are one of the more consistent bands who launch an album every two years like clockwork. This month sees them unleashing New War Order, eight new mosh anthems with two short interludes, ready to snap your neck like it’s 1986.
The brief intro “Zionism (The Reaping)” shows off all the positives this album has to offer in one concise package. Tight, dystopian riffage at lightning speeds; backed up by ferocious, snappy drums; and a clangy bass that never conceals itself. The entire album, however, is definitely not what I would call concise. At thirty-eight minutes, on the surface, it appears to be a suitably normal length for a thrash metal album. But trust me, after twenty minutes of such rapid pace, you’ll start wishing this was an EP. Kudos to Exarsis for going straight at the jugular with gusto, but dynamic contrast is what makes an album interesting, and there are very few moments of respite on New War Order.
I held out hope for the closer, the oddly-titled “Human Project” (wasn’t that the name of their last album?), to be a more varied, sprawling affair – after all, it clocks in at eight minutes. Unfortunately, even that sets off like a rocket and rarely lets up. This lack of variety makes the moments that do ease up on the pace feel like highlights. The one-note breakdown at the end of “Prophet For Profit” is real headbang heaven; and the 5:42 mark in “Human Project” is where you set your phasers to ‘mosh’. The gang-shouts in each chorus are also pleasantly enjoyable, giving the listener something to really join in with, and helping to accentuate each section. This brings us to possibly the most divisive aspect of Exarsis: Nick Tragakis’s vocals. Sounding akin to Bobby Blitz on helium, he will either drive you away, or have you hooked (imagine Michael Coons from Lääz Rockit permanently stuck in his ‘FIRE IN THE HOOOOLE!’ voice). Personally? I love him; he contrasts wonderfully with the gang vocals, and provides some semblance of melody, especially on “Twisted Logic”.
Lyrically, this is your typical ‘leading humanity astray’ anti-government message as spewed forth by every thrash band this side of Havok (though handled far more subtly and elegantly than their American counterparts). The awesome artwork by the unstoppable Ed Repka should tell you everything you need to know. New War Order is definitely in the upper calibre of thrash albums released this year, and I definitely don’t mean to disaparage the talents of each member. There is some seriously impressive stuff here, but Exarsis needs to either trim the fat or change up the formula a little. Any thrasher will most certainly enjoy this whole endeavour, but the less die-hards should stick to the more leisurely segments (“Chaos Creation”, or the opening of “The Underground”). Whilst this is a flurry of thrash from an incredibly talented band, it passes by in a blur of windmilling hair and flailing arms.