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Exilia - "My Own Army" (CD)

Exilia - "My Own Army" CD cover image

"My Own Army" track listing:

1. Phoenix
2. Are You Breathing?
3. The Hunter
4. I´m Perfect
5. Across The Sky
6. Emptiness Of You
7. Far From The Dark
8. Deleted
9. No Destination
10. In The Air Tonight
11. My Own Army
12. Magnolia

Reviewed by on May 15, 2009

"Masha doesn’t have spectacular range, when she tries to go above her mid-range she just wheezes, nor does she have much subtlety. But she does have conviction, power, and a unique sound. "

Nu-metal has seen somewhat of a transformation over the last few years. Moving away from the hip-hop styled beginnings of Limp Bizkit and industrial sounds of Korn, it has changed into a genre that is now dominated by bands with female lead singers that belt out almost operatic style vocals over heavy grunge-influenced power chords. Exilia has just released their fourth full length album, “My Own Army,” and is fully part of the new wave of nu-metal, but with one big difference. That difference is lead singer Masha.

Musically Exilia is almost an exact copy of other new wave of nu-metal bands. Down tuned guitars and staccato chords rule on the guitar and bass, and vocals dominate most songs. “I’m Perfect” is an excellent example of Exilia’s standard operating procedure. The song starts immediately with a thin guitar melody over rolling bass chords. The verse has Masha singing over staccato and somewhat sludgy guitar, and eventually the chorus brings the vocals up an octave. The guitar and bass suddenly become very legato during the chorus, and the chords mix together into one seemingly endless and sludgy sound that carries through the whole chorus. A break with another guitar melody – I hesitate to call it a solo – over Masha’s quiet chanting leads to another chorus and the end of the song. The whole thing feels slightly industrial.

The thing that sets Exilia apart is Masha. Her voice isn’t operatically beautiful like Sharon den Adel’s of Within Temptation, nor is it aggressively melodic like Christina Scabbia’s of Lacuna Coil. It trades melody for texture, and really is just raspy. It sounds like she scrapes her throat with a nail file and then screams until she is almost hoarse before singing. Masha doesn’t have spectacular range, when she tries to go above her mid-range she just wheezes, nor does she have much subtlety. But she does have conviction, power, and a unique sound.

Sometimes her sound works perfectly. The album’s first song “Phoenix” has an aggressive and simple syncopated riff. Masha’s yelling during the verses and singing during the chorus work well, as the song needs power and volume on top of the instrument mix. She delivers the goods in fine form here, as her raspy voice complements the mostly percussive style of music underneath.

Sometimes, however, Masha’s style doesn’t work at all. “Across The Sky” is a slower piece that has plodding, melodic guitars and quiet breaks. Masha’s lack of range and her trade of melody for raspy texture can’t support the musical needs of the song. She needs to belt it out like the previously mentioned den Adel, but can’t pull it off.

All in all it’s good Masha is a unique vocalist, as Exilia’s music is just an amalgamation of all the female-fronted nu-metal from the last few years. While some will love Masha and some won’t, she is certainly a breath of fresh air in this already played out genre.

Highs: Masha’s raspy power dominates on “Phoenix” and “The Hunter.”

Lows: Masha can’t handle a diverse set of singing modes and can’t support demanding melodies.

Bottom line: Standard new wave of nu-metal music with a lead vocalist you will love or hate.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)