We’ve touched on Exumer several times since their reformation but this is the moment of truth. With the one-two punch of thrash metal’s resurgence and the increasing ease of tour organization, reunions like this simply makes sense in a way they didn’t back in the late 90′s or early aughts. Along with countrymen Vendetta, Exumer spent their initial career hovering around the 2nd to 3rd tier of Teutonic thrash popularity and have now reformed with what almost seems like a score to settle. I mean hell, if you were playing thrash back in the day, never got the proper recognition, and now find yourself watching legions of clones pretty much playing your stuff 25 years later and touring overseas, wouldn’t you want to strap on the axe and show ‘em how it’s done? Thought so. Thankfully, these guys don’t fall short where other reunions have and burst forth with the fury of a thousand Liam Neessons. Fire & Damnation is armed to the teeth with a groovy guitar tone and a clarity of aggression that has only been equaled by heavy hitters like Sodom and Kreator.
Now these aren’t top end bpms so those of you who call anything you can actually headbang to in rhythm “poser” might want to look elsewhere. This album is not trying to be Reign in Blood or Epidemic of Violence. Instead it fills a contemporary need in teutonic thrash. Sodom has slowed down, Kreator has gone the melodic route and Destruction, lord knows I love ‘em, seem to have gone tone deaf in their old age. This bad boy bears a fantastic production with a low-end groove that’s amazing for a thrash record. When it’s at its best, Fire & Damnation is surpasses Exumer’s 80s work in style. “A New Morality” seeps with the grooves, drives and half-time breakdowns of thrash’s heyday, with some tasty leads to boot. “Devil Chaser” is a bruising mosher with some notable lead guitar hooks. The downside is the re-recorded tracks “Fallen Saint” and “I Dare You”. These just seem unnecessary and were probably the band’s C grade cuts to begin with. Moreover, when compared to the fills that made Slayer and Testament legends, those found here are often unambitious. For my buck, the art of the thrash metal can be summed up in getting the mosh pit moving while engaging the fans in the front row with your playing. A few more bells and whistles on the next release wouldn’t hurt. This doesn’t stop the band from forging a new sound while keep one foot in what we in the biz call da old skoolz. In a world where the Teutonic greats have taken some creative liberties and the Big 4 (minus maybe Anthrax) seem to be having an contest on who can troll their own fans more epically, having a band like Exumer reemerge with a vengeful, heavy form of thrash, –one without pretense— is a sound to behold.