Review: “Morality” by Exclave

Tearing up New England over the past four years have been Exclave, a band labeled a Thrash/Doom crossover act, hailing from Portland Maine who feature in their ranks members of numerous other projects including Quiet Warning, Cryptic and Apollyon. Their self titled debut dropped in 2016 and following a year of shows they dropped a live record “Live at Geno’s” in May 2017. A single line-up change is considered pretty good going these days and having switched out their drummer 18 months ago, the line up now consists of Adam Earley on Guitar, Darrel Dennison on Vocals, Mike Bryant on Bass and Tony Francis on Drums (Big Meat Hammer, Chapels, Thee Icepicks). They set to recording “Morality” at Pigcat Studios with Dead Air studios in Massachusetts mastering for a May 2020 release.

Lyrically reading between the lines each song pretty much sums up the bands name – Exclave – meaning “a portion of territory of one state completely surrounded by territory of another or others” – with each track having a certain feel of being surrounded by ones enemies and having violent thoughts of escape. Each track is encased in old school Metal riffs with thick bass lines and accompanied by a raw sounding mix that keeps the vocals inside the fold rather than floating on the surface. That makes the whole record sound like it was recorded using Doom or even Black Metal techniques, which plays neatly to the sound that the band are looking to create. “Gateway” chugs along nicely through the darkness, striking an surreal balance between light and shade thanks to some Dio esq bright clean and shrill vocal parts. Those are neatly contrasted by some gravelly uncleans while some sludge laden riffs keep things moving with some gear change tempo shifts. “Nothing” keeps things on the darker side of the opening track, a driven cut that has the kind of riffs you might expect from Mick Murphy of My Ruin or Matt Pike from High On Fire. We know the record was recorded at Pigcat Studios, but it sounds like it was recorded in one take as it captures that live energy and bottles it here. Upping the tempo for the thunderously bass heavy “Certain Death” makes for a stand out rager with more Thrash overtones than the earlier cuts with some skull battering, pummeling groove. “Prophecy” then changes the approach entirely with clean vocals from the start and some shrill pitching accompanied by the slow crushing Doom laden guitar work that tells you something is coming and it ain’t pretty. Like the plot twist in a thriller, the final third flips everything back on it’s head with some savage vocal moments and a faster tempo shift. “Swarm” is one of two sub three minute ragers that powers through with thanks to a searingly good rhythm section performance that offers little platforms for the vocal lines to sit on as respite between each battering. “Shadow of the Void” has some brighter lead moments that stand out over the rumble of the rhythm section and there are a couple of interesting not quite solo moments that finish it neatly [7/10]

  1. Gateway
  2. Nothing
  3. Certain Death
  4. Prophecy
  5. Swarm
  6. Shadow of the Void

Morality” by Exclave is out now and available over at bandcamp

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