The third LP from Hamilton’s infamous Exalt is a bombastic delivery of surging hatred and violent mania, and is the latest in a long line of releases by bands that stand as a testament to the fact that Southern Ontario knows how to deliver a particularly apoplectic dose of wrath in musical form.
With that said, it’s not merely an LP with heaviness. The album doesn’t want to allow its form of crushing brutality to be made redundant. Instead, it looks for varied ways to blow the listener’s hair back while simultaneously branching out into brief reveries of melody and oddly sweet serenades that might have felt tacked on and insincere in less capable hands. Instead, Exalt manage to maintain a steady stream of angry, bitter consciousness that knows when to bubble over or when to burn the dregs at the bottom, sometimes within mere moments of each other (look no further than “Caro” for evidence of this).
What’s striking is how much influence from nu-metal groups and yesteryear acts appear on the record. But far from being clunky or ill-fated, it somehow works brilliantly, and even more interesting when you consider the sheer breadth of those influences. Using vocals as an example, there are some clear parallels between Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and frontman Tyler Brand, but there are other moments that bear a striking similarity to Deftones’ Chino Moreno (most definitely on “I Dove Into The Sun” and throughout “Worship”).
But far from this coming off as a mimicry, they instead just sound like a few more flavours in an already diverse dish of influences. And there are far greater influences at work here. When the riffs rise in “Leave Them All Behind”, one is reminded of early metalcore pioneers Poison The Well, when melody in guitars was an exercise in trying to craft something that spoke to emotions outside of merely rage. Don’t be mistaken, this is a band that has a wide palette and knows how to make the various colours work with each other.
Mostly the group is content with concocting new ways of delivering audible punishment. While they occasionally deviate from that particular path, such as on the bittersweet “The Shape”, they don’t make the common mistake of repeating themselves or carrying on too long. There’s nothing “extra” about the album. Their greatest talent, arguably, is the ability to cut out the chaff and focus on including more variety, while focusing on how to deliver heavier and heavier tracks.
The Shape You Took Before The Ache Track Listing:
01. Sacrifice To Purity
03. Martyr Alone
04. Judas Wolf
05. The Ache
06. Leave Them All Behind
08. Body Be Free
09. The Shape
11. I Dove Into The Sun
Run Time: 36:15
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Check out the song “Sacrifice to Purify”