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Exmortus

Rarely (if ever) has an old-school thrash-metal act incorporated elements of bludgeoning death metal and passages of pure melodic and classically informed guitar shred. One of the few bands to give listeners that '80s-era, Slayer-esque feeling while remaining musically all-encompassing (at least in terms of metal subgenres) is Exmortus, a young quartet hailing from Whittier, Calif.

The group's full-length debut, In Hatred's Flame, burns with the ambition of teenage metalheads striving to be as epic as inhumanly possible. While Exmortus falls short of creating a whole new category of metal, as some online mags have claimed, these guys are definitely sincere in their effort to entertain.

Perhaps the most emblematic Exmortus song is "War Gods," with its martial heaviness, growling vocals married to military-themed lyrics, and dual-guitar fretboard runs that borrow more from Mozart than Metallica. Still, there's something for every headbanger--whether they enjoy slam metal, prog metal or NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal).

There's even a jaw-dropping Joe Satriani-like instrumental in the form of "Axes of War," a blistering three-minute twin-guitar solo to end all three-minute twin-guitar solos. But Exmortus--who have adopted distinctly Neanderthal-level names like Conan (guitar) and Balmore (vocals/guitar)--save the brain-scalping tracks for last: "Wrath of Vengeance," so technical it borders on grindcore, and "Fimbulwinter," which takes a doomy riff and launches it into orbit. Not for the faint of ears.

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