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Exivious - Exivious CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.07 | 127 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Superb Instrumental Jazz Metal

I've been a fan of Jazz Metal for awhile now, and combing through the fairly broad range of music that gets grouped in this category can be challenging. Some of the bands are my absolute favorites, and some do absolutely nothing for me. Like many though, Cynic holds a special place in my heart, and when I heard that an instrumental offshoot was going to happen, I was waiting eagerly. Exivious is led by "those other guys" on the recent Cynic tour (and album to some degree), guitarist Timon Kruidenier and bassist Robin Zielhorst. Drummer Stef Brooks from the band Textures (one of two major outfits who took their name from a Cynic song) and second guitarist Michel Nienhuis round out the group.

If I were to pick one example from the genre as an entry point, I would pick the Exivious album. The lack of vocals takes away one of the most inconsistent and sometimes abrasive elements of the genre, and the level of musicianship is amazing. I've had the album playing in my office and had visitors remark "What is THAT?" with genuine interest. While the influence of Cynic is clear, the instrumental context allows the band to both be more complex and exploratory on their instruments. The result eclipses original Cynic bassist Sean Malone's Gordian Knot by quite a bit. (Zielhorst almost matches Malone as a player, but the remainder of Exivious' work is far beyond that of the friends Malone brings in on his projects.)

As in Cynic, complex rhythm palm muted guitar drives much of the album, with a variety of soloing styles which are at least as compelling for their construction as for their dexterity. There are also a number of great clean guitar parts, which probably evoke the most "jazzy" sound on the album. The style of bass playing also is decidedly jazz-influenced, the least "metal" element of the mix. The drumming is complex, though rarely funky. Like Sean Reinert from Cynic, Brooks puts just the right amount of looseness into his playing to make sure there is some groove in the music. This certainly isn't 70's fusion drumming though.

Highlights of the album include "Asurium" with a crazy echo-plex like solo which sounds like nothing I've heard since Tommy Bolin's mastery of that noisy effect. "All that Surrounds" is a beautiful clean piece in two parts that actually evokes Pat Metheny's superb album THE WAY UP. "Embrace the Unknown" does the best job of truly melding jazz and metal into a single form, and features a solo (guitar synth?) by Paul Masdival.

This is yet another album that is excellent but doesn't quite reach masterpiece status. While I love the album, it doesn't truly blow me away the way Cynic's TRACED IN AIR does. Again, still highly recommended.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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