In the spirit of giving due to the holiday season, I have another review for the metal masses! I present to you the latest offering from Italian post-deathcore band Despite Exile titled “Wound”. This is Despite Exile’s third full-length album to date and most definitely their best! I have known their supremely talented vocalist Jei for a few years after meeting him in a Facebook music group and I have loved watching not only his growth as a vocalist but this band as a whole. Despite Exile consists of the aforementioned Jei Doublerice on the mic (as well as producing and mixing/mastering the album), guitarists Giacomo Santini, Francesco Comuzzi, and Alessandro Carminati, bassist Giovanni Minozzi and Simone Cestari on drums. That may seem like a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the instruments but they all work together beautifully and accentuate each other wonderfully. Album opener “Riven Mirrors” comes at you right from the beginning with some feedback before Jei comes in with some monster vocals as the rest of the band joins the fray with plenty of blast beats and catchy riffs. The beginning for some reason reminded me a bit of the opening to “This is Exile” by Whitechapel. It definitely caught my attention and had me nodding my head. About half way through, Jei drops some cleaner style vocals on us before dropping a mini breakdown and slapping us with more nasty gutturals before going back to that opening riff. Supreme songwriting on display early on. “Scepter” is the next track up and it starts off slowly until a china cymbal crashes and the band leaps into a chuggy, technical style riff over some solid drumming fills by Simone. The band then turns up the speed to eleven, perfect for getting the pit going at a show, before hitting a quick breakdown that goes back to the chuggy riffing. The band gives you a bit of a chance to catch your breath with some softer, melodic winding riffs that are coupled with some delicious blast beats before that chug comes back to the end the track. I know that the band is a fan of Fit for an Autopsy and the track “After the Deluge” is inspired by them without being an imitation. Starting off with a doomy, almost sludge style riff with blast beats raining down on the listener, the track crawls to life before the pace increases but with the same thick riffing and atmosphere. We get some more cleaner vocals on this track in the middle which add a nice touch to contrast the bleak atmosphere. Killer track all around. “Custodian” begins with just vocals before the nasty chug fest begins. At one point, a guitar breaks off and does some tremolo picking, adding some black metal flair to the track. Near the end of the track, we get a killer guitar solo before the doom kicks back in with that added tremolo section to close it out. “Sunder” continues with the same thick atmosphere and doomy riffs as the previous few tracks before we get a bit of a breather with the instrumental track “From the Black Beyond”. Always nice to have a break thrown in to help cleanse the ear palate so to speak. After the break, the boys come back with what is my favorite song of the album in “A Pale Glimmer of Light”. Some light symphonics start the track before the band starts back in with the chuggy, doom style riffs overtop the well time blast beats that should have you banging your head. If not, check your pulse! About a minute half, the guitars do this crazy pinch harmonic that made me go back and listen to it several times to figure out what they were and also because it was such a cool addition to the song. The track continues to pull the listener along, pummeling them with those thick riffs until about three minutes in, the bottom drops out and the band kicks you in the teeth with a huge breakdown. These dudes know how to transition from one section to another. Again, absolutely sublime songwriting. “Lament” shows off some post black metal vibes at the beginning, with some soft tremolo picked riffs accompanied by blast beats before settling down with some melodic riffing as Jei screams from the distance. The track turns quickly, as the down tuned guitars return for a moment before the track soars back to the post black direction. As soon as that section ends, the track goes back to the pummeling section with Jei throwing down some disgusting gutturals. The breakdown at the end of the track comes out of nowhere again and absolutely suffocates the listener from all directions to close out the track. “Golden Shards” starts out more blackened then golden, as the drums come in with a war-like beat, foreshadowing the bombardment that awaits, as Jei barks at you through the mic. Jei lets out a spine chilling scream as the blast beats rain down on the listener with razor sharp riffs swirling around the listener. The track slows a bit in tempo but not in overall intensity as tremolo riffs are accompanied by the chuggier, down tuned riffs. The drums cycle from full on blast beats to short burst and back. Simone crushed this song, hitting every note and fill at the right moment. “Hymns of Failure” is the next to last track on Wound and it is another banger of a track. While still bringing the heavier, down tuned guitars, there are sections with a soaring guitar riff that adds a great layer to the track. Halfway through, the track slows to one guitar over some snare and tom hits as Jei screams before transitioning into some sweeping melodies as the track slow begins to wind down and move into the title track. The last track “Wound” is another ambient track and to me is the perfect way to end an absolutely heavy, both musically and emotionally, album. Despite Exile took a giant leap forward on this album and I hope this album gets them the recognition they truly deserve. Jei is a phenomenal vocalist and person and the rest of the band are masters of their instruments. I see big things in the future for this band! Cheers!
- The Metal Architect