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Exivious - "Exivious" (CD)

Exivious - "Exivious" CD cover image

"Exivious" track listing:

1. Ripple of a Tear (7:30)
2. Time and Its Changes (4:39)
3. Asurim (5:31)
4. All That Surrounds: Part I (3:38)
5. Waves of Thought (6:24)
6. The Path (5:45)
7. All That Surrounds: Part II (3:39)
8. Embrace the Unknown (4:44)
9. An Elusive Need (4:39)

Reviewed by on December 4, 2009

"Unwinding in an incandescent display of psychedelic jazz mixed with oddly timed but fluidly fitting technical metal riffs."

Every now and again a CD slips into my mail box that I get quite excited to have the chance to listen to. Back before I joined Metal Underground I was a man possessed with a quest to find another band to rival the progressive death metal legends Cynic. After much disappointment and trawling, I came across a new band with two demos to their name called Exivious. Their sound was a genuine clone of all of the elements found on "Focus," and yet the formula felt as fresh as it would have been in 1993. Only one question remained, would they stick around to make a full length?

Fast forward to 2009 and lead guitarist Tymon Kruidenier is inducted into the very band he so desired to emulate with the music of Exivious. Not phased with this however, Exivious resisted disappearing into blue smoke like so many demo bands and produced a full length album aptly named Exivious (a word for which I have no clue to it's meaning). This release would finally be something to rival Cynic's "Focus" I thought - Well, if rivaling the transformation Cynic went through from their demos to "Focus," I was right.

"Exivious" is, to many ears a through and through instrumental jazz-fusion album. Unlike Cynic, a technical death metal band with jazz influence, Exivious has become a jazz band influenced by technical death metal. Still technical to the point where jaws will drop, the album unwinds in an incandescent display of psychedelic jazz mixed with oddly timed but fluidly fitting technical metal riffs. Yet even with the precondition of being a metal band, the "metal" riffs here dance delicately through the wafting clean guitars, flittering drums and gurgling fretless bass. Compared to Cynic's output where jazz was starkly contrasted with vicious remnants of Death's "Human" album, the metal elements here are surfacing to breathe only for seconds before descending into the dreamy ocean that is the album's crystal clear production. The songwriting is strong on superb quality of every track on the album, each like a fantastically obscure musical journey. Exivious is metalheads teaching jazz musicians how it is done, there is no need to go into details about the musicians here as the musicianship is simply over-adequate in every respect.

Are there negative aspects? Well not really at all, it's fantastic. There are however preferences. As mentioned, this is an instrumental album - gone are the death grunts and robot vocals, leaving only the technical metal influences to separate “Exivious” from another great fusion album. Furthermore, the metal elements have been woven densely into the clean elements to produce something very cohesive (as opposed the so many other bands who try and fail to meld distant genres successfully). You won't find any tracks like the brutal "Fear The Unknown" from their first demo, but the change in direction is even clear in the song titles with the song having morphed into track 8, "Embrace the Unknown." You will however get a fantastic closer like "An Elusive Need," with dream-like psychedelic sections that again blend perfectly into the album's web.

To any Cynic, Alarum or metalhead with a jazz persuasion, this album is highly recommended. But perhaps more importantly, this could be any metalhead's “my first jazz album” - so if you’re looking for a great introduction to the genre, this is a great place to start.

Highs: Inventive, technical and inspiring jazz-fusion.

Lows: Lack of ball crushing, robot singing metal.

Bottom line: If you're interested in real jazz-fusion or have worn your copy of "Focus" out, this is for you.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)