Exgenesis – Solve et Coagula [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

That glorious moment when you find a fucking cool record and you excitedly run off to tell your friends fellow captive writers about it. That awkward moment when one of them is like “oh yeah, I was telling everyone about this a few weeks back – wait, you were there, weren’t you?” And all you’re thinking is “die.” In this case, my sternest death stare was directed at the insufferable Cherd of Doom for it was he, not me, that first tooted the trumpet of Swedish-Colombian melodic doom/death dealers Exgenesis and their stunning full-length debut, Solve et Coagula. But, in excellent news for yours truly (and tough titty for the rest of you), I was quicker to slap my TYMHM sticker on, so here we find ourselves.

Since their brutally excellent 2015 EP, Aphotic Veil, the founding duo behind Exgenesis have recruited drummer Christian Netzell to the fold, bringing the Swede-to-Colombian count up to 2:1 in the Scandinavians’ favor.  This has not altered what they do, however, and this is all to the good because what they’re doing is outstanding. Exgenesis open Solve et Coagula with “Hollowness,” a burly beast of a track, which finds Colombian Alejandro Lotero in terrifyingly good form behind the mic, belting out guttural death growls and harsh-edged screams over, chunky doom riffs and searing, soulful melodies, set to newcomer Netzell’s pounding drums. Initially, this appears to set the template for a ‘Swallow the Sun on steroids’ record, as this sound continues through “Embers,” the gloriously brutal melancholia of “Where the Hope Ends” and “Truth.”

It’s when we hit the double title tracks of “Solve” and then “Coagula,” however, that Exgenesis‘ star shines brightest, as the instrumental “Solve” sees guitarist Jari Lindholm let loose and the melodic leads begin to really soar, as the death and doom elements are dialed back slightly. The bass creates a huge, broad palette onto which the mid-paced riffs and almost proggy leads are layered in a gorgeous tapestry. “Coagula” muscles up again, as Lotero’s deep, death roars and blackened rasps, and Netzell’s pummeling double kick bass are unleashed once more. The incredible guitar melodies remain, however, with the combination creating something truly captivating. Across Solve et Coagula, while elements of Exgenesis, most notably the work behind the kit, at times increase in pace, the whole never gets above mid-tempo, which creates rich veins and layers in the sound. This is continued to good, slightly introspective-sounding, effect on penultimate track “Intracosmos.” “Stasis” closes out the album in epic fashion, conjuring echoes of Rain Without End labelmates Soliloquium, and early Katatonia to whom both they and Exgenesis give more than a nod.

My only real criticism of Exgenesis, if it even merits categorizing as criticism, is the decision to open Solve et Coagula with “Hollowness.” To be clear, this is not because “Hollowness” is a bad track – it most certainly is not – but it is one of the more straightforward pieces on the record, lacking a few of the subtleties of later tracks on the album. For me, Solve et Coagula is one of those rare albums that gets better and better as it progresses, with the back half being markedly stronger than the first. If it has to go one way or the other, then I would rather have an album that builds rather than one that tails off, but it feels like maybe Exgenesis open the record on its weakest note. Speaking of notes, the production is very good. Balanced and rich, the record feels big and spacious, with everything given room to breathe. The mournful edge to the guitar melodies – particularly on “Solve” – is a particular highlight.

Exgenesis have produced a tight, vital sounding record. Packed with meaty doom riffs and melo-death inspired leads but clocking in at only 44 minutes, Solve et Coagula delivers enough punch to satisfy me on each of my dozens of listens, without ever overstaying its welcome. Carrying all the weight and heft of EP Aphotic Veil but showcasing slightly more refined songwriting, Solve et Coagula is an outstanding album and a very fine debut. Even if my attempts to reduce Cherd to a pile of smoldering slag with my eyes alone have so far proved fruitless, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I got to bring this excellent Thing You Might Have Missed to your attention.

Tracks to check out: “Solve,” “Coagula,” “Where the Hope Ends” and “Stasis.

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