Exitus // Statutum Est Hominibus Mori
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Things coming back from the dead is generally a bad sign… or is it?
Label: Svart Records
Websites: Facebook.com/Exitus | Myspace/Exitus
Release Dates: EU: 2013.08.23
What catapults one album to the front of a promo pile (seeing it reviewed on countless sites), and has the next album lurching and blundering along, no reviews, the band lost in obscurity? Active only between 89 and 90, Finnish doom thrashster’s Exitus suffered just such a fate with their one and only release Statutum Est Hominibus Mori seeing the light only as a demo sold to friends. A lifetime later (23 years to be exact) Svart Records saw fit to drag this dusty masterpiece kicking and screaming out into the sun, pulled a little remastering magic out of the hat and wham Exitus are back!
Statutum Est Hominibus Mori (or Man is Destined to Die) opens up with “The Metamorphosis”, a trudging instrumental that has a distinctly old-school feel. The track is repetitive and uncomplicated, and before you know it you’re smoothly transitioned into the Venom-ous “Black Heritage”. This tune makes it very obvious that Exitus have borrowed heavily from the doomier side of Hellhammer‘s unpolished Satanic Rites and combined this with the engaging, desolate feel of Candlemass‘ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (the days of Johan Längquist). It’s a hellish ride that starts off mid-paced and full of piss and Venom and then looses power dropping you into the quagmire of sticky, heavy bassy down-tunedness that follows through into “Reprobate”, onwards into “Tears of Despair” and the discordant “Hymn to Sorrow”.
Vocals on the album were handled by Steinbeisser, one of the original founding members of the band and I notice that Exitus now make mention of a new lineup – this is a giant pity! Steinbeisser’s odd-ball, exaggerated, scream and spoken (interpretive reading) vocal style in “Black Heritage”, “Reprobate” and “Thanatos” has all the necessary power and dramatization to fill this album with an unrehearsed, unpolished air of wretchedness that appeals to me hugely.
Hamm brings to the table simple, very repetitive, mournful, dredged up, despairing guitar solos and in some instances like “Hymn to Sorrow” and “Thanatos” I could almost swear the guitar work was snatched from something along the lines of the intro to Shining‘s “The Ghastly Silence”. Where Exitus shine though is in Steinbeisser’s huge and heavy bass work, with “Reprobate” and “Tears of Despair”, his bass thrums along tirelessly, dashing any and all hopefulness you may have had prior to hitting play.
The production on Statutum Est Hominibus Mori reminds me again of Hellhammer’s Satanic Rites except it has a slightly better balance, playing consistently through all speakers. The album feels plenty old-school, but at the same time has a clarity that lets the instrumentation shine (including the bass) and brings a brightness to Steinbeisser’s chunky screams.
While this is an enjoyable and immersing listen, if you’re looking for the doom-laden intricacies of a band like Candlemass, Exitus won’t deliver that at all. Exitus bring to the table more of an unpolished, “jump in the fire with all feet” old time chaos of Venom or Hellhammer. Bearing in mind that this album is a remastering of their demo, I’m inclined to wonder what they would have had on offer had this been their second or third release. Pick up this dusty masterpiece if you haven’t already!