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5 stars If ever there was an album that could boast the culmination of metal and true jazz, this would be it. Could this be the first bonafide metal FUSION album? Certainly that is a controversial statement, but I stand firmly beside it. Where luminaries such as Cynic flirted with and indeed utilized elements of jazz, vis a vis playful and jazzy interludes, drumming, bass playing, and even jazzy guitar licks galore; now members of the newly reunited Cynic (Tymon- guitars, Robin Zielhorst- bass; members of Cynic) have taken Tymon's much lauded one-time Cynic-"clone band" (who can boast that? few indeed have tried- let alone succeeded) and have given it years of development and fleshing out. With this their debut, they have taken all of the previous metal trappings and refined them into a well-oiled, complex, and stunning heavy fusion band; not unlike Cynic crossed with Allan Holdsworth. I hear each member playing their integral parts (independently) in each song; and yet they come together cohesively to mesh into an unstoppable and energizing concoction of marvelous proportions. I will not go into details song by song, as I am sure others will tackle that conquest... Suffice it to say that while the band has their own unique sound, they do not necessarily make the unbearable mistake of essentially writing the same song over and over again; there is character in the songwriting- from song to song, there are dynamics galore, whether it be a well-placed tempo change here, a bass solo there (with such feeling- what a lot of prime metal lacks!), or a general feel of free-flowing (often times improvised) and lyrically eloquent lines that spiral around each other in a novel direction... songs clearly have purpose and individual voices. This is not one to be missed; for metal fans OR fusion fans- I say both crowds will be equally pleased. This disc has everything a person could want in virtuosic music... chops, chops, and more chops and yet it is tempered by emotional interjections and verses. If it weren't for the fact that Cynic has released their reunion album "Traced In Air", there would be no comparison in terms of exceptional metal release of the last year (or even recent memory). There are obvious likenesses on display here, given that the bands share members, yet they retain their own qualities... Cynic having the vocals added, whereas one could view Exivious as an instrumental likeness to Traced In Air, but I would like to dig deeper and say this one goes the extra mile; where some may complain of vocals, they may find everything to enjoy here with Exivious(yet I love the vocals on Traced In Air)... space freed up by lack of a vocalist only allows unused space for more layering to be built up by the four musicians on display here. They layer, they inspire, they blew my mind, and leave me wanting more. Let's hope these guys don't fade away into obscurity like so many great technical metal bands of their ilk (though Exivious is obviously on another level alltogether in comparison to the majority of so- called "tech-metal" of today). I am not sure if I have done this album justice with this obvious fanboy- of-a-review, but I will close by saying; give this one a try, very few albums of this calliber come along that often!
Report this review (#217805)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Metal and jazz is what this album is about. Give Joe Pass a stomp box and Ray Brown an electric bass, team them up with Mike Portnoy, and it might be close, but even then it's a ludicrous comparison. Exivious is extremely hard to follow, but the musicianship throughout is top notch. At times there are mellow passages that give way to explosive metal ones, vice versa, and sometimes a smart blend of both. The biggest downside to this album is that while it's very entertaining and would definitely appeal to musicians, it isn't memorable at all, since there seem to be no motifs or themes to glue any of it together. Essentially, the whole thing is the same (with two noteworthy exceptions), and ultimately it sounds like one extended jam session.

"Ripple of a Tear" Fretless bass and heavy electric guitar tear through phases of gentle jazz segments and crashing metal sections. Ultimately, I find this similar to some of Joe Satriani's work. The arrangement doesn't sit still in one place for too long, which can make this piece difficult to follow.

"Time And Its Changes" Shimmering clean electric guitar teases the listener for a moment, and then the music abruptly becomes progressive metal in the richest sense. The bass generally maintains a simple rhythm, while the guitar solos over it.

"Asurim" Loud, screeching, and vociferous, this isn't my thing at all. The guitar effects, while admittedly creative, are downright annoying. The composition itself is also irritating, in that the seeming lack of coherence creates a barrage of noise.

"All That Surrounds: Part 1" After the belligerent previous track, a respite is sorely needed, and this track comes through in fine style. Lovely acoustic guitar charms the listener, as fretless bass works over and under it.

"Waves of Thought" Rapid fire drums and an awful lot of tempo and mood changes occur in this lengthier piece. The bass solo is kind of out there and not easy to follow, but the subsequent guitar solo, a very bright passage, more than compensates. The gentle chords at the end make for a lovely conclusion.

"The Path" The loveliness continues into this track, with soft swells of guitar. There's quite a bit of creativeness poured into this track, particularly in the way of drums, but it's one of the hardest to follow on the album.

"All That Surrounds: Part 2" Mystical clean guitar and atmospheric sounds meld together for this second part. This track is very must reminiscent of 1980s King Crimson.

"Embrace The Unknown" This is a jazzier piece, with some groovy fretless bass, but the heavy guitars enter eventually, and there's a lovely woodwind instrument for some desperately needed variety. The second half is mainstream progressive metal.

"An Elusive Need" The best guitar work is saved for the final track- it boasts the perfect blend of tasteful shredding (the pick attack is almost inaudible) and subtler passages. It's one of the best tracks on the album.

Report this review (#228188)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive fusion metal is what this album is all about. Exivious is a fusion metal band of fusion member from Cynic and Texture. But hold your thought...this album sound nothing like Texture. They might actually lean over to cynic but still sound unique. I would say that I totally disagree with Epinogsis about his Joe Pass on distortion pedal analogy because I think Allan Holdsworth on Mesa Boogie Recto would fit more with the music style. I am a musician and I do enjoy this album so much. Their complexity is not yet off limits. It's complex enough to wow the listener but still easy enough for those who familiarlized with prog music to comprehend.

From track to track, the music pace through many, and might be too many, turns. From headbanger metal riffs to jazzy interaction between musician. The melody is nothing less than beautiful. From my musician standpoint, their talent it creativity should gain more recognition form music society. The atmosphere of this album is sometimes so ethereal and for those who enjoy the latest Maudlin of the Well's Part the Second would falls far. Other parts are so fun to listen to, they play hard enough to be recoginized as a metal band but they are also retain some quality of improvisationism and melody-oriented enough to be considered Jazz/fusion.

If you like complex music and does not want to go too far off, too destructive, to strange or too avantgarde, this album would not disappoint you. Highly recommend.

Report this review (#235719)
Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Absolute perfection, that's what it is. Well, I heard many tries to accomplish this goal. Most of them failed. Couldn't attract my interest, catch my mind and not give it back, or just were boring.

This one tried it and succeeded. For the first time, for the second. For the tenth time, it managed to be catchy, even without melody. Of course, one of my main topics I'm looking for in every music is melody, but I understand that it's not suitable for every genre. Absolutely not for jazz, or metal jazz in this case (with verging to jazz-rock sometimes). Because this genre is rare and isn't so big to include it here, I would call this experimental metal. After all, what else is this. Testing boundaries of music, border of these two, not so often combined. Also, this one reminds me word "clean" music, just meaning and purpose, how we'll get here.

and I feel more confident, than in case of MotW Part Second.

Report this review (#246195)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#258666)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Exivious is, hands-down, the greatest tech metal album ever recorded, if you can consider it metal at all. Much like its sister band Cynic, Exivious is a band of elite musicians unsatisfied with the limitations of the metal genre striving to expand the possibilities of what a metal band can do and be. Melding elements of jazz fusion and an almost baroque precision, they transcend both metal and fusion into a realm only briefly visited by a few others like them, the ilk of Planet X and Aghora. This is virgin territory, and as is the case with any serious musical exploration, it incurs great risk; but Exivious has hit upon something truly phenomenal.

The key to this band's sound is a very precise balance of textures. The burning metal tracks are foiled by the powerfully serene and atmospheric "All That Surrounds" parts 1 and 2, giving much-needed depth and sonic variety to the record. Within individual songs, the feel changes often enough to keep things interesting, but there is enough repetition that you can get a handle on what's going on. The riffs themselves are technically challenging yet melodic enough to enjoy harmonically.

Be warned: this is not an easy album to get into. I guarantee that the first listen will be absolutely overwhelming for even the biggest tech metal aficionado. After a few times through you will begin to recognize some of the repeated patterns, and once you become adjusted to the sound of the band you'll be able to keep up with these maniacs and really enjoy it. Exivious is the best metal album since Traced In Air, and I would say it's even more impressive instrumentally. I can't wait to see what Tymon and Zielhorst accomplish in Cynic. It is my earnest hope that this music finds its way into the higher metal circles and influence the direction of the genre in the next few years.

Report this review (#293625)
Posted Friday, August 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Exivious play technical jazzy metal with an onslaught of instrumental jamming and shredding. The band sounds very much like Octopus (Chile) and offer a similar technical sophistication, but they sometimes miss the emotional impact and the catchy grooves of that band.

The band sure knows how to mix the tough power of metal with the fluency of jazz. The opening song is an excellent example of that. Also Time and Its Changes is a great listen. But after a couple of tracks, the relentless business of the material can become tiresome, making this into an album typical for the kind of music created by highly proficient musicians. They put on a tight and impressive spectacle but they can't surprise with their songwriting. It's enjoyable for quite a couple of songs, but it can quickly become too much. I think it misses the memorable riffs and hooks one expects from metal.

Spectacular, vibrant and technical but clinical and cold. I admit it's an objection I have towards most math-metal so while this warrants 3 solid stars in my personal appreciation, it should sure be an excellent listen for most fans of the style.

Report this review (#305562)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Posted Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars A dozen or more listens, and I've yet to crack the code.

Being infatuated with Traced in Air really made getting Exivious a rather routine sounding decision. However, I was not really properly prepared for the incredible fusion of jazz and metal that Traced in Air could not have even dreamed of achieving. Exivious, the fusion of former members of Cynic as well as former members of the Dutch band Textures, is an alarmingly talented group of individuals. With both a strong Cynic flavour as well as a stronger jazz flavor, Exivious provides a savory blend of complexity and downright beauty with a metallic zest. While many jazz metal bands can pride themselves on unispired but undeniable jazzy keyboard and bass lines, Exivious can easily rise above the pack with their incredible harmonies, soloing, and overall musicianship of the music.

Ripple of a Tear breaks open with a jazzy bass line, but not your run of the mill jazzy bass line. This is a top notch kick-you-in-the-balls epic bass lines fit for Scott LaFaro of the classic Bill Evans Trio (he could rip out quite a bass line). The song takes the listener on a sonic journey of sweeping licks and incredible and dynamic sections, with a truly sublime fretless bass solo (a fretless is an staple for every bassist). Overall, the track provides the essential and the perfect, making for an overall stupendous opener.

Time and it's Changes, aptly named for the copious amounts of time signature changes present in the track, is another stupendous and jazzy track, again with a prominent bass line. This track, with much stronger emphasis on the atmosphere and ambiance of the backing track, has a much chiller, but at the same time a faster tempo and more free flowing, feel to it. Overall, this provides yet another near perfect jazz metal track.

Asurim, with even more odd time signatures than the last track, is one of the more "metal" tracks of the album. With just slightly less pure "jazz" and bass solos, the band rips out their true riffing power. With some really great riffs backing the supreme soloing going on, the band really goes crazy on this song.

All That Surrounds, the ~7 minute "epic" of the album, is broken into two sections. Part 1 is a very mellow and somber piece that slowly builds into a serenade of beautiful bass solos and guitar backings. The track is truly beautiful, employing some interesting tapping techniques. Overall, the track is one of the more mellow tracks on the album, and a great dynamic for the album.

Waves of Thought sharply contrasts the previous track with darting licks and quick on off riffing and soling attacks. The song tapers off into a more melodic feel near the end, with some fantastic solos from both all three stringsmen.

The Path is a more atmospheric, but still very incredible and jazzy, track. It has a very slow and ambient intro, but has no hesitation of switching very quickly back and forth between melodic and metallic and jazzy and awesome!

Part 2 of All That Surrounds continues that very somber ambient feel of the first part. This time, they insinuate more free flowing guitar licks and bass solos, making for an even cooler track than the first part. Overall, the suite really cools down the album, bringing it out of the sixth gear, and makes the album even more dynamic and beautiful than it was already.

Embrace the Unknown finally brings on the quintessential Cynic member - guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal, to one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song breaks out with a fantastic bass solo, and quickly breaks into another, jazzier, "solo" of some synthesizer/guitar sounding thing. The track has a very Cynic-y feel, which is understandable, and very much welcome for this Cynic lover. The riffing has that up-down feel typical to Masvidal, and I love it! The whole track is teeming with dynamic after dynamic, filling the track up with great sounds and textures. Overall, this track is easily my favorite of the album and a must for any Cynic fan.

An Elusive Need, the closer to this stupendous album, has a slower and more laid back feel to it, as well as having a quick and ready guitar lick fronting it. The track is a very jovial sounding track, with quick and upbeat rhythms and an overall very upbeat feel to the song. It ends the album with a great smile of satisfaction on my face, making this one of my most recent favorite albums.

ALBUM OVERALL: Jazz metal always seems to have a special place in the sonic spectrum that radiates from speakers, at least for my ears. As soon as I hear a rhythmic polyrhythm of jazzy bas solo, whether it's played well or not, the album seems to be elevated at least a little bit. In the case of Exivious, the album is elevated a hell of a lot. With a great bassist, most bands can do pretty much anything, especially if the bass is prominent, and this band certainly utilizes theirs. Every track has a supremly funky feel to it, with strong melodic and rhythmic structures backing it. Overall, the album is easily the best jazz metal album I've heard. However, the album still has those stereotypical jazz metal tendencies that ring a little bit similar to Cynic or Planet X that defects the originality of the music only by the slightest bit. However, it is still a supremely bitchin' album! 5- stars.

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Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Exivious is a "Fusion Metal" instrumental band formed by members of both legendary death metal band Cynic and prog metal band Textures. It seems that they are currently on hiatus, and so far the only album they put together is this self titled debut. I saw all the infinite praises they gave to this album, but I have to admit that I'm disappointed by it.

One thing no one can deny, by listening to this album, how excellently prepared these musicians are; especially the rhythm section, with jazz influenced drummer Stef Broks, the virtuos bass player Robin Zeilhorst, with his amazing fretless bass that enriches the music, a style that is obviously inspired by legend Jaco Pastorius. The guitars are also phenomenal, thanks to Cynic guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, with also Michel Nienhuis from Sengaia; thanks to them the riffs are extremely complex and technical, and when they play the slower parts they have a much jazzier touch.

Since this features members that all come from prog metal bands, the main style of the album is of course this genre, but what makes it really original is the surprisingly massive fusion and math metal influences. The rhythms are very fast and esoteric, the melodies very challenging to listen to, because of the guitars, and even the bass at times. The production is clean, the mixing is perfect, so what is wrong with this debut? First of all, I noticed that this album has a weak structure: It sounds a lot like a cluster of songs that frankly have all a similar structure, and they kind of sound all the same, so I'm not really understanding the philosophy of this organization. The only thing that makes the album a little more solid is the presence of the two parts of "All That Surrounds", and both parts are very similar even melodically. Also, some songs turn me off, just for the fact that they aren't at all memorable or hardly have any emotion or attitude, and so I forgot about them pretty quickly. It sound just like a few musicians just jamming for 44 minutes, with most definitely some very good ideas that come along. I don't deny that many parts are mind blowing, like the entire opener "Ripple Of A Tear", or even the next track, "Time And It's Changes", but other songs just aren't as good, said in a much more simple way. Another one of my favorites is the closing piece "An Elusive Need", with just great musicianship, especially from the guitars.

An album that I partially enjoyed, but didn't light my day in a particular way. "Exivious" is most definitely an ambitious project, but they really should try to put a little more feeling to the songs (please keep in mind that I'm a huge prog metal fan, and that I don't mind technical virtuosity at all, if used correctly). If you're a big fan of this genre, you should check this out, but don't expect too much from it.

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Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Exivious' - Exivious (9/10)

As the genre of metal has virtually reached its creative peak, attempts have been made to crossover this relatively extreme sound in music with many other genres, most notably being classical music, and jazz. As one could guess, many of these attempts to transform the sound of heavy metal into something else fall through and only come out half-baked, perhaps showing potential, but often fail to do anything that has not already been done before. Exivious' full-length debut comes at a stage where jazz-metal fusion has already been up and running for almost twenty years, and some could argue that it was perfected shortly afterwards. Regardless, there are few acts I have heard that incorporate the two styles as fairly together as does Exivious, and along with a better performance than I could have hoped for in an album like this, 'Exivious' is one of the best instrumental metal albums I have ever heard.

When describing the sound and music of this band, it is very useful to point out that the guitarist and lead man of this project Tymon Kruidenier is a member of the legendary progressive death metal act Cynic, helping to make one of my favourite albums 'Traced In Air' as incredible as it was. For anyone who has heard that album, the same style of melodic, yet highly technical riffs translates well onto an even jazzier template. The music here is completely instrumental, and for the style that Exivious are playing, that is a good thing; having vocals to work into this music would have been a confusing and distracting move. Instead of the progressive death metal that Cynic played, think of something quite a bit more mellow, yet retaining every bit of technicality. As opposed to a metal album with hints of jazz as I was expecting, Exivious finds themselves dead in-between the two genres. The music is constantly shifting gears and dynamics, light on recurring ideas but heavy on complexity and dynamic flow. Think of Pat Metheny at his most complex, amp up the heaviness, and you begin to get an idea of what Exivious is about.

One thing that could be complained about here is the apparent lack of melody in the music, and while there is certainly nothing here that a listener will find themselves humming along to, there is more than enough here that keeps a listener engaged and interested in what the band is doing. Although there is a definite focus on keeping things technically impressive, Exivious plays their material with a surprising amount of feeling, thanks in no small part to the sort of freedom that the jazz style gives its musicians. On top of the main course, there are respites from the technical jazz metal, sometimes taking the form of mellow sections within songs, but most notably being the pair of interlude tracks called 'All That Surrounds', which each form a masterful ambiance using laid-back tapping easily reminiscent of Animals As Leaders. These comprise the most accessible slice of what Exivious is about, and the rest of the album takes quite a bit more time to really become involved with. At first, 'Exivious' is an album that while a technical marvel, seems to meander around and scarcely leave the starting grid. My first impression with the music was certainly wrong though, and while the music of this band may only appeal to those who are able to appreciate both metal and jazz, it stands as being one of the most enduring masterpieces of the metal fusion genre, and I can only hope that they do not stop with their debut.

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Posted Friday, October 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Exivious" is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch progressive jazz/fusion metal act Exivious. The album, which is limited to 1000 hand-numbered copies, was self-released in May 2009. Each copy features a unique mini-poster.

Exivious are probably best known for featuring former Cynic members Tymon Kruidenier and Robin Zielhorst, but the band go back as far as 1997 and have released three demos before the release of this debut album. They started out as, what I would characterize, a Cynic clone, but soon dropped the growling vocals and became a fully instrumental unit.

While the music features metal elements like double bass drums and some relatively hard edged power chord riffing, the music style is at it´s core jazz/fusion based. To my ears this is jazz/fusion first and progressive metal second. The musicianship is outstanding on the album and even though this is a self-released album, the band have managed to produce an album with a good professional sound quality. The tracks are complex, featuring multible sections and changes in dynamics, a fusion based rythm section and some really well played guitar solos and themes.

"Exivious" is actually quite the impressive release by the Dutch, and if you enjoy jazz/fusion with a metal edge, this is definitely a recommendable purchase. A 4 star (80%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#714849)
Posted Saturday, April 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 really

Exivious from Holland is considered one of the top jazz fusion metal bands in last years. Formed almost 15 yers ago they mange to release only one stidio album so far in 2009, never counting the demos. Well what we have here is a combination of jazz fusion at played higher speed with prog metal leanings, usualy on this type of music is vice versa. The album is dominated by furious but yet very organized and tight guitar parts, drums aswell, is understandable because all musicians involved here are well known and handle the instruments very well. Two members from Cynic, the guitarist and bass player, the drumer from Textures and is clear in what direction the music is, very similar with Cynic, Gordian Knot, even with dutch Anomaly or Spiral Architect. Quite technical to extrmes, where the pieces flows very well one to other from more up tempo to mellower parts. Personaly I like this type of music, in this case is no diffrent but I can't consider this one a masterpiece, for instance I like more Gordian Knot, Anomaly (Holland) or Spiral Architect. The problem is here I think is that the passahes and arrangements don't contain some melodic lines, all album is based on technical manuvres, very technical btw. and is slightly not very diverse in compositions. All That Surrounds: Part 1and part 2 are more spacey and mellow but the rest is on 100 miles/h specially the guitar and drums. Not band but nothing really special aither for me at least. Anyway a good album that desearves 3 star, 3.5 stars for the first two pieces Ripple of a Tear and Time And Its Changes who are the best , the rest are ok with a minus on Asurim the worst tune of this record. Fans of thegenre can take some spins, worth it but is quite far from masterpiece status as many pretend to be.

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Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Fusion metal pinnacle

Sub-genre: Tech/Extreme Metal (could very easily fall into JR/F)
For Fans of: Canvas Solaris, Allan Holdsworth, Return to Forever, Gordian Knot
Vocal Style: None
Guitar Style: Varied electric. Metal distortion but little in the way of "chugging". Use of swells for texture and plenty of clean tone.
Keyboard Style: None that I am aware of.
Percussion Style: Rock kit, occasional metal double-bass sound, never overbearing.
Bass Style: Very tasty, warm fretless electric bass.
Other Instruments: None
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you insist on vocals or are a genre purist of any sort.

Summary: The roots of Exivious are well documented. It is those roots that draw people to want to hear their self-titled debut album. But there is more ? or perhaps less depending on context - to the band than what is implied by their roots. First and foremost is the fact that this is a 100% homegrown, do-it-yourself, self funded project. As we are well into the age that this is not only possible, but becoming the norm, we tend to find a lot of boiler plate production value that seems to limit the creative process. This is not the case with Exivious. While it is not hard to pick out derivative elements in this album, the presentation is wholly their own and finds a healthy niche in a genre that is now flooded with hybridization.
The most simplistic description of style/genre would be fusion metal. I refrain from using the J word for fear of a purist attack, but jazz elements resound throughout the compositional structures, chord modulations and use of broad dynamics and textures. An instant injection of warmth of tone is provided by the use of fretless bass. The guitars, while unmistakably distorted at most times, are never content to ride power chords. Instead frequent tonal variations, key modulations and string ensemble-like volume swells provide a strong sense of contrast throughout the album. The use of these tools leaves the project not wonting of vocals. Exivious allows the music to tell the story completely. They use a seemingly simple device in a two-part intermission type song, "All That Surrounds", which ties the albums segments together and provides the cohesiveness of story. The first part gives a calming false resolution major chord sound that is unraveled by the more urgent "Waves of Thought" and "The Path", finally leaving the listener on an ethereal precipice with the minor and whole-tonal "All That surrounds, pt.2". The album again resolves with the upbeat "An Elusive Need". The album rounds out at forty four and a half minutes, a short album by today's standards, but containing not a moment of filler that permeates 21st century recordings. The sense of completeness as the album fades is to often missing in the majority of music in the last 20 years.

Final Score: I spent a good 18 months listening to this album trying to figure out if it was really the masterpiece I thought it was from the first listen. In fact, I am drawn more to this album as time passes. It has the perfect balance leaving the listener simultaneously sated, yet wanting more. I am confident that the majority of prog fans, given an undistracted listen, would demand this as a part of their collection. No element completely dominates or submits. Tasteful and artistic. 5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, July 7, 2012 | Review Permalink

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