Album Review: Exhorder – Mourn the Southern Skies

2019 is proving to be a year for killer comebacks. Having reformed only last year, old-skool groove/thrash legends Exhorder are back with their latest album Mourn the Southern Skies. After a whirlwind year of slaying stages, signing to Nuclear Blast and working on the album, the band’s renewed energy is sure to make for an awesome record.

Opener “My Time” sets the tone and Exhorder mean business straight from the first note. The 4-minute blast of intense thrash instantly gets a living room mosh pit going with it’s pounding drums and hooky riffs. Frontman Kyle Thomas pulls no punches with his throat-shredding bark, losing no intensity over the years.

Exhorder aren’t a band to mince words and “My Time” is one hell of a statement. There’s plenty more blistering thrash on Mourn the Southern Skies in the form of “Beware the Wolf” and “Rumination”. The former being a straight-up relentless banger and the latter interweaving blasts of thrash and slower grooves. There’s loads of groove-factor on the album with the bluesy embellishments in “Asunder” and the crunching “Hallowed Sound”, as well as the swinging riffage of “All She Wrote”.

The band are performing on point with no loss of the intensity they’ve put out live since last year. Guitarists Vinnie La Bella and Marzi Montazeri’s riffs are crushing, with plenty of the complexity of early Exhorder yet remaining incredibly catchy. The solos shred throughout the album, proving La Bella is one of the most underrated legendary thrash guitarists. Drummer Sasha Horn kills it on the kit, holding down each rhythm and fill tight as he pounds the skins.

“Arms of Man” and epics “Yesterday’s Bones” and the title track closer bring a more sludgy doom-vibe with heavy slow-burn riffs and bluesy flavours. “Yesterday’s Bones” builds to an extensive solo section which has a more melancholic feel with the underlying chords and acoustic guitar/keyboard textures. “Mourn the Southern Skies” is more riff-heavy than its fellow epics, bookended with haunting acoustic guitar arpeggios as well as ending on a dark, proto-metal feel with the added Hammond organ layer. There’s a final burst of no-nonsense thrash in “Ripping Flesh”, re-recorded from Exhorder’s Get Rude demo as the penultimate number that’s certain to tear up the pits on the next tour.

Exhorder have undoubtedly made one of the best albums of 2019 with Mourn the Southern Skies. The record is well-paced, with more relatable lyrics and without watering down any of the heaviness the band are known for. The songs are drenched with classic Exhorder vibes, yet still bring something new and with an awesome modern sound. Despite releasing only 2 albums back in the day, Mourn the Southern Skies feels like a natural progression from The Law but with the growth and maturity that comes with time. They may have had problems in the past but this time is truly Exhorder’s.

Mourn the Southern Skies is available now via Nuclear Blast.

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