Album Review: Exist – Egoiista

Formed in the late ‘00s by vocalist/guitarist Max Phelps, America’s Exist are about to unleash their third full length album Egoiista. The band have carved out a unique niche by blending technical proficiency with eccentric arrangements and they kick of the new decade with a career defining album.

Beginning rather sedately with cascading guitars and haunting vocals “Through Suffering He Paints The Universe” gradually adds layers of sounds which weave a spell around the listener. Haunting and ethereal, it’s a shapeshifter which evolves from its ambient beginnings into a monolithic enormity that, like an anchor tied to a drowning man, weighs heavy. Guttural vocals nestle next to clean singing while bright and brittle guitar lines are juxtaposed with huge, crushing riffs and this flux constantly repositions the listener. Coming full circle, “Through Suffering…” seemingly alters the very fabric of time and its 10 and a half minutes pass in the blink of an eye.

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The addition of new drummer Brody Taylor-Smith has given Exist another dimension as he mixes up tempos and unorthodox time signatures to ensure “The Lottery” ululates like huge waves. A jazzy guitar solo mid song works as a foil to make the heavier sections heavier and it’s a tension of opposites that runs throughout Egoiista. The production is huge and expansive and ensures that the following “Until The Storm Comes” opens like a door to Dante’s Inferno. Guitar lines crash and intertwine to create an intricate maze that, nevertheless, doesn’t seem forced or overworked.

There’s a definite Human and Individual Thought Patterns Death vibe to “Infinite Monkey Theorem” and that really shouldn’t come as a surprise as vocalist Max Phelps has served time in the legendary Cynic and also the ultimate Chuck Schuldiner tribute, Death To All. Technical, but tuneful, the epic “Infinite Monkey Theorem” also has shades of Atheist and Sadus with an ambient, spacious mid section that’s full of neoclassical flourishes and a space rock feel that is carried over to “Siblings Born In Different Dimensions”. Using the full dynamic range it’s a song that comes from the very edges of your speakers and draws the listener into its central black hole.

Avoiding the usual stereotypical lyrical affair “Egocosm” makes a damning indictment on the vapidity of modern culture and the music, abruptly shifting between brutally heavy passages and ambient sections, only adds to the oppressiveness. Opening with a haunting refrain (that foreshadows album closer “Amongst The Trees”) “Egocosm” is an epic track that ululates like a stormy ocean. “Last Flight Looming” is a brief exercise in distorting tonality and sounds and leaves the listener feeling discombobulated before the penultimate “Spotlight’s Glow” arrives like a fist in the face. With each drum beat detonated like a bomb and a guitar virtuosity that’d put Joe Satriani to shame.

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“Amongst The Trees” takes the motif introduced on “Egocosm” and elongates it into a nine minute epic that recalls the progressive nature of Rush and ensures Egoiista ends on a sombre, thoughtful tone.

Egoiista is out on August 28th

Exist: facebook | bandcamp

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