Infex – Burning in Exile Review

I’ve spent the better part of 2021 trying to figure out if I’m tired of thrash or if there’s just been an drought of speed worth getting excited about. Whichever the case may be, I keep poking the thrash/speed promos looking for something that speaks to my inner thrashard and makes me want to slam like it’s 1985 again.1 California’s Infex have been lurking around since 2012, billing themselves as crossover thrash. They’ve released two album already but I never heard of them until we received the promo for third platter, Burning in Exile. Their first release since 2016, it features a new guitarist and bassist, but the sound is still classic thrash with modest crossover elements. The band has talent and can color outside the lines at times, looping in black and death influences to spice up the keg party. Is that enough to finally get the head of Steel moving at terminal velocity?

No, but they sure give it the olde college try and do a few interesting things along the way. With a core sound situated someplace between Sacred Reich and Exodus with slight Wargasm afternotes, Infex aren’t trying to reinvent the steel here. Opener “Blood of the Wicked” is a fairly by-the-numbers thrasher with riffs you’ve heard in one form or another on your favorite albums. I do however detect faint whiffs of the wildly underappreciated Wrathchild America amongst the hoarse shouting and fairly furious riffing, which I certainly did not expect. Some of the guitar interplay between Jack Childs and Adam Weber is quite tasty and memorable, with blackened edges arriving on the back end. The song is a modest success despite verging dangerously close to the generic zone. “Exiled” is the first time the crossover sound really shows itself, with bouncing, beefy riffs and a chorus that would seem at home on a Sick of It All record. It’s okay if a bit clunky, elevated by an ocassional Testament feel to the riffs.

Infex come into their own on “Acid Reign” which sound more savage, gritty and fugly. The riffs take on a nicely blackened edge and the vocals shift to match, adopting a nasty blackened rasp. It’s not exactly Witchery, but it’s a fun enough mash up of genres. As it blasts along the band even toss in death metal vocals for bonus bedazzling. Follow up cut “The Abyss” also plays with these extreme sounds, taking a basic thrash template and mixing in death metal vocals and a few vaguely deathy riffs. If Infex gave me a whole album in this wheelhouse they’d score greater goodwill. Instead they revert back to their thrashy comfort zone for some decent tunes like “Torn Apart” before going full Cryptic Slaughter on the awful crossover cut “Beer Run.” In fairness, I’m sure I would’ve loved the song’s knuckleheaded idiocy when I was a teen. I’m olde as dirt now though, and as much as I still enjoy my beer, this sort of juvenile, Tankard-esque tale of brewski-fueled misadventure doesn’t hit my funny bone and it’s not a good tune either. At a slim 37 minutes I can’t complain about the length, and most songs are wisely kept in the 3-4 minute range. My biggest issues with the album is the weak, tepid guitar tone. Thrash requires a powerful guitar presence with teeth, and there’s no biting here. That’s a huuuge demerit to House Infex.

Speaking of the guitar-work, the riffs are often decent and sometimes quite good. The harmonies and solo-work are also solid and Childs and Weber show themselves to be talented slingers. It appears vocals are handled by several members so I’m unsure who to credit with which style, but they’re well done across the boards with the more extreme vocals being particularly effective. The band has more than adequate chops and most of the songs offer memorable moments, even if there’s a tendency toward the derivative.

Burning in Exile is the kind of album you find yourself rooting for and wanting to like more than the material actually allows. There are several quality cuts here sure to fire up the blades in your metal heart, but there’s enough stock standard stuff to drag the whole package down a peg or two. My days of ardent thrash appreciation may be behind me, but an aging ape can still dream of a time when he stood beneath a beautifully lacerated sky and pondered life’s mysteries (i.e. chugged cheap beer). Here’s to those halcyon days of speed and roses.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 13th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Though with my bad knee I shouldn’t be slamming into anything.
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