Intent – Exile Review

The last thing I’d wish on anyone (even an enemy) is for them to live in Mesa,1 AZ. If I could pick up the boys of Intent and move them, I would. What a terrible place to live. But, in hindsight, that might explain why the band’s thrashy take is so fucking mean. In the vein of rethrashers like Havok and Warbringer, Intent is intent2 on causing harm to others. While their 2018 offering, Vox Populi, was a safe, Exodus love affair, Exile is an entirely different beast. Instead of pushing the vocals to the front and everyone else to the back, Exile flips the order with a crushing compression that batters the brains from your head. No frills or thrills—Exile means to inflict pain, and the riffs just keep coming.

I love to hear a band adjust their sound slightly and deliver a better product than the previous record. Vox Populi is utterly unmemorable. So, when I grabbed the thrashy Exile, I was concerned. But seconds into the opener, “Victims of Conquest,” all doubt faded. Perhaps the upfront mix of the drums is too much, but Garrett Loper is a kit master. And his fills and blasts are a perfect match to the aggressiveness of the riffs. The song is a four-minute bludgeoning that never takes a break. The closer “5th Column” is similar in attack but with countless riff changes. It’s not a building piece that grows as it goes. Instead, it knocks you unconscious with one lick, beats your body into pulp with another, and finally turns you into the ash with the closing riff.

Between these bookends, the songwriting remains brutal but varies from song to song. Examples are “Time” and “Changing the Axis.” Rather than continue the Warbringerish assault, the band mixes some clever influences into these back-to-back ditties. “Changing the Axis” is a mid-paced plodder with a catchy chorus and slick groove. I love the subtle vocal arrangements and riff transitions that produce hefty Sodom nods. “Time,” on the other hand, goes Sepultura on your ass. The riffs are primitive, and the clean chorus, while rather odd, does a fine job matching the mood—especially when combined with gang shouts at the end. It’s an odd piece, a bit too long, and the black sheep on the album. But, at least there’s variety.

While the album is a straightforward thrash attack, the catchy choruses also exist. “Exile” uses staccato riffs with punching vocals to match each strike. Its chorus, while simple and almost nonexistent, still grabs hold of you and makes it hard to push out of your mind. But “Primal Instinct” goes above and beyond with its chorus. Like “Time,” there are some unnecessary moments; at six-and-a-half minutes, “Primal Instinct” is a touch long. But that chorus is the album’s biggest, strongest, and most addictive.

Compared to Vox Populi, Exile is a big step forward for these Arizona thrashers. While some of the tracks could use some trimming, there’s only one song on here that bores me. Exile is a no-apologies kind of thrasher. It feeds you and feeds you and doesn’t care if you like it or not. There are still areas for improvement, including the drastic differences in mixes between their two albums. Also, the DR4, compressed-to-fucking-wine master, doesn’t allow much exploration into the intricacies of the riffs. But, I’m sure the mix was intentional because this album won’t let you take a breath as it continues to change riffs in one consistent motion for its full forty-minute runtime. Exile is a solid offering from a band that will stay on my radar.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: C Squared Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 26th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Pronounced Mace-a, for all you simpletons.
  2. Teehee.
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