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Excruciation : [g]host

Simple, stylish, confident, accomplished… Excruciation's latest album doesn’t just look good, it sounds great too.

Originally formed in 1984, Switzerland’s Excruciation enjoyed some underground success in their formative days, but split up in 1991 citing musical differences. Thankfully, those arguments have been put behind them, and '(g)host' is their third full-length album since reforming in 2005.

The first thing that strikes you about this new release is the quality of the packaging. The CD digipack and booklet are full of beautiful images from the appropriately-named Dutch photographer Jascha Hoste and they benefit from a very simple, stylish layout, including a scattering of symbols that might have you scratching your head and wondering where you have seen them before.

When something is so finely wrapped, you hope that there’s something special inside. And there is – the latest offering from the Swiss veterans is perhaps their most accomplished work to date. This is 45 minutes of classic but highly original doom metal that explores the full range of emotions from misery to sorrow to grief and back to more misery! And Excruciation tackles that bleakness with a perceptible relish and musical prowess.

‘Under The Linden Tree’, for example, features a spectacular funereal groove that grows and builds, demonstrating the band’s experience and quality, while the chorus of Mother South is like a doomier version of Cirith Ungol. Elsewhere, there are elements of My Dying Bride and Celtic Frost, but always delivered with a kind of horrified vibrancy. There are heavier, more intense bands out there, but Excruciation hit you with a bold, muscular malevolence that gives them an edge. Perhaps it’s a memento from their death metal roots, but there’s a droplet of two of Entombed in the mix, with a gothic hint showing itself on occasion.

Eugenio Meccariello’s phlegm-splattered roar may lack some quality it is at least extremely passionate and honest. He is perhaps at his best when indulging a mournful, moaning style (akin to a certain compatriot called Warrior) rather than his spoken style or death-doom growls, although sometimes he is guilty of over-dramatising the sombre lyrical content. Should he take a more subtle approach, the band’s charismatic riffs and well-balanced songs would shine all the more brightly. That said, some of his melodies and choruses are majestic and memorable and he puts in a full-blooded performance.

Excruciation’s '(g)host' is a seriously impressive release that bears many repeat listens, particularly for the most original tracks to be found during the album’s first half. Simple, stylish, confident, accomplished… this album doesn’t just look good, it sounds great too.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. While The Sea Mounts Up
2. Mother South
3. Under The Linden Tree
4. Murmansk II
5. Ghost
6. Crawl
7. Sacrum Quod Vivit
8. Murmansk I
9. Devil Wears Christ

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes

Visit the Excruciation bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-07-24 by Steve Bidmead
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