Super-groups are an odd breed of duck. They either end up a bunch of egos, ball-busting for attention (a fight nobody wins) or they end up something along the lines of Down‘s NOLA – chilled out, soaked in beer, raw and dirty and probably totally fucking stoned. This little collective I happened upon most recently via Rock n Growl Promotion, hail from a range of countries including, unsurprisingly, the USA and more surprisingly Spain, Italy and France. And whether by random chance or more deliberately, they’ve stumbled upon a sound that combines the pessimism of doom with elements of ‘gator infested, swampy New Orleans sludginess and a punk tough guy attitude. In a nutshell, Exorcism have invoked the chunky groove, churning sludge and rocking buzz of bands like Down, Floodgate and Corrosion of Conformity and added it to the the classic Sabbath inspired hippie, psychedelic stuff of early Trouble. Shall I go on?
The slow, dense sound of “End of Days” kicks things off, but it’s “I Am God,” the very first track I came across, that best showcases Exorcism‘s sluggish nod to Trouble‘s Psalm 9 and The Skull and Down‘s rough edged, bluesy in-your-face melody. Csaba Zvekan’s (Raven Lord, Zvekan and ex-Killing Machine) vocals have the right amount of gritty tone to give songs like “I Am God” and “Master of Evil” a great, no nonsense feel. His big moments though are when he hits those crotch grabbing, throaty high notes on “Voodoo Jesus,” “Last Rock N Roll” and “Higher” and suddenly you realise why you’ve been hanging onto to his every word – Lord can this man sing!
Much like on Down‘s Nola, Garry King’s (Joe Lynn Turner, Jeff Beck, Achillea) drums are simple and packed with groove and rhythm, enhancing the show rather than trying to draw attention away from Csaba’s vocal might. Lucio Manca’s (Raven Lord, Solid Vision) bass is right up there and and easy to hear rumbling and it certainly adds to that compressing, doom-ridden feeling you expect from these grooving, sludge-masters. Joe “Shredlord” Stump’s (Raven Lord, Holy Hell, Reign Of Terror) guitars have a similar placement to those of Floodgates Penalty. And while he’s not pulling out his 7-string and getting all technical, this axeman delivers riffwork that’s reminiscent of the mid 90’s and packed with Southern zing.
The album has a very consistent feel with all tracks following on well from the next, none feel out of place and for the most part the dynamic range hovers between a nice tidy 7 and 8. Csaba definitely has some kind of god-like elevation on the album which isn’t particularly surprising being that he was largely responsible for the production, mix and mastering at Total Master Sound Studios in Spain. The sound on the album has the necessary raw, gritty feel one wants from their sludge, thankfully the vibrant radiance was left at the door in lieu of a neat garage feel.
This is a great début by Exorcism and the only complaint that I can really muster is that the album is in no way deep. If Exorcism want to stand out for anything other than heaps of catchiness, they need to add something more complex to set them them apart from the straight-forward offering they have here. My favorite tracks ended up being the Down and Floodgate inspired “Voodoo Jesus” and the Blaze Bayley sounding “Zero G.” Now I’m inspired to chill out and drink beer – later!