Defectum Omnium

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Wrath of Prophecies
02. Under the Gaslight
03. Forever and Beyond Despair
04. The Tale oOf Unsound Minds
05. Divide and Conquer
06. Year of the Goat
07. Taken by Flames
08. Defectum Omnium / Stolen Hope
09. Three Stages of Truth / Lacing the Well
10. Sedition
11. Desensitized
12. Your Six

Five years on from "Mourn the Southern Skies", EXHORDER are in no mood for chasing heritage status. An album that built upon the Louisiana band's pioneering legacy, "Mourn…" was joyously received and showered with critical plaudits that finally gifted them a momentum that was never quite secured back in the post-thrash day.

The departure of founding guitarist Vinnie LaBella in 2020 could easily have derailed everything, but with vocalist Kyle Thomas now assuming the role of chief EXHORDER evangelist, and a new lineup featuring prodigal guitarist and death metal legend Pat O'Brien (ex-CANNIBAL CORPSE) keeping the southern fried flag flying, this grotesquely underrated band now seem suitably equipped for the long haul. Grittier and nastier than its extraordinary predecessor, "Defectum Omnium" takes EXHORDER back to the flesh-flaying savagery of those classic early records, while continuing to nurture the more sophisticated spirit that drove their big label resurrection.

Kyle Thomas still has unfinished business to attend to, and making up for lost time has seldom sounded so brutal and pissed off. Witness opener "Wrath of Prophecies": a venomous, knife-flurry of a song, which rips along at a deranged speed, smashing the living daylights out of everyone and everything in its path. Welcome flashes of drugged-out, swamp-dwelling New Orleans sludge aside, EXHORDER have enthusiastically re-embraced the punishing, metal-as-hell bravado that first made them such a fearsome proposition first time around, and it suits this restless, modern age of no reason perfectly. The more melodic approach that occasionally dominated "Mourn the Southern Skies" is here in abundance too, although always tempered by that spiteful, foundational spirit. Songs like "Under the Gaslight" and "Divide and Conquer" are all sneering disdain and bulging biceps, the groove-metal blueprint set alight and shoved down the throat of naysayers and baying acolytes alike.

On a similar but subtly skewed tip, "Forever and Beyond Despair" and "Year of the Goat" are hateful, punk rock onslaughts, underpinned by the dirtiest, most destructive thrash and monstrous doom of a haunted hue, and played with white-hot, caustic relish. The ongoing majesty of Kyle Thomas's scabrous vocals provides the blood-flecked icing on the weed-polluted cake. As fun as it is hearing the great man stretching out with the likes of TROUBLE and ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY, there is no denying that EXHORDER gives him the ideal, carnage-strewn platform from which to fully exploit his talents. As showcased most brilliantly on slow-burning flagellators like "The Tale of Unsound Minds" and "Defectum Omnium / Stolen Hope", Thomas is one of the great American metal voices and he is a flaming, charismatic presence throughout "Defectum Omnium".

A long time ago, many of us used to smash up our bedrooms to "Slaughter in the Vatican". Age may have withered us slightly (or a lot),  but EXHORDER still have the power to make metal folk disregard their own safety. It would be impossible to precisely replicate the revelatory qualities of this band's recent return to active service, but their fourth full-length stands shoulder to shoulder with everything else they've released. It spits, it snarls, it has more killer riffs than seems strictly necessary, and it will bulldoze its way into metal hearts with no quarter (or a single, solitary fuck) given.

Author: Dom Lawson
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