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Exivious - Exivious CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.07 | 127 ratings

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5 stars It will not come as a surprise that Exivious follow in Cynic's footsteps ? since their founder, guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, is also a member of the ground-breaking 'jazz-metal' outfit. Unlike the US band, though, by writing vocals out of the equation they have removed one of the main hurdles for would-be listeners of the more extreme fringes of prog metal. Indeed, no matter how intricate or proficient a band's music may be, the use of growls (or any similar styles) can be a major turnoff for those accustomed to the more 'traditional' varieties of progressive rock.

As is the case with most instrumental albums, "Exivious" requires careful listening in order to be fully appreciated. It is definitely not the kind of stuff you can put on as a soundtrack for other activities - complex music, full of twists and turns, yet not unnecessarily complicated, or weird for weirdness' sake. In fact, the music has a beautiful, natural flow, a clarity and melodic quality that not many would associate with 'extreme' metal. Even though guitars make up a prominent part of the sound, they never get to the point of overwhelming the other instruments. As in most jazz-fusion, however, the foundation of Exivious' sound lies in the rhythm section, especially in Stef Broks' jaw-dropping drumming.

One of the plus points for "Exivious" is undoubtedly its short running time, which prevents music as intricate as this from turning into a mere exercise in technical prowess. Opener "Ripple of a Tear", the longest track at 7.30 minutes, shows evident jazz-fusion influences, with clean, almost relaxed guitar licks alternating with heavy, sharp riffs, and an arrestingly beautiful guitar solo. The second longest item, "Waves of Thought", shares in many ways the same 'rollercoaster' structure, shifting abruptly from aggressive riffing and soloing to an almost spacey mood, with keyboards echoing faintly in the background, sparse drumming and chime-like guitar sounds; while the heavily bass-led "Embrace The Unknown", with its extended synth guitar solo, comes across as an almost textbook-perfect example of 'fusion-metal'. Some other tracks impress instead for their understated, laid-back mood ? namely both parts of "All That Surrounds", featuring some distinctive, water-like effects in the second half; and "The Path", with a beautiful, atmospheric guitar solo in the middle, and very little trace of the band's trademark, hectic riffing.

Head-spinningly complex without being cold and sterile as other efforts in a similar vein, "Exivious" can easily be listed as one of the top releases of 2009. In fact, the band's sterling musicianship, coupled with their admirable sense of restraint, focuses on creating cohesive, highly listenable tracks rather than pointless displays of technical skill. However, it is also an album that will definitely not be everyone's cup of tea. Strongly recommended to practising musicians and fans of intricate, challenging music, it may come across as daunting to those progressive rock fans who prefer a higher measure of melody and accessibility.

Raff | 5/5 |


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