Asa takes a listen to the latest single from the new force in German Thrash… Exa
Formed in 2013 in East Berlin, Exa have become somewhat of a force to be reckoned with over the last couple of years. Having released their debut E.P, Ignite, in 2018 and then following that up with an album (Cut The Past) in January 2020, they’re clearly committed to pumping out as many punishing Thrash bangers as possible. Add to their output some stellar live shows, including playing with Power Trip, Nervosa, Gruesome and Night Demon to name a few, and it’s not hard to see why they’re building a loyal following. Exa (which consists of Tom Exa on Vocals/Lead Guitar, Johannes Lortz on Rhythm Guitar, TaminoBosse on Bass and Leon Pester on Drums) describe themselves as belonging to “the new generation of Thrash Metal”, a statement that is incredibly apt for a band who blend old school Thrash with modern Metal flavourings. Death Is Coming is the latest offering from the band, having been released on December 11th, giving fans an early Christmas present of sonic mayhem.
The track opens with a classic old school Thrash riff, with building drums that explode in a frenzied mosh worthy Thrash attack. Tom roars into action on the vocal front with a ferocious bark of “Burn my fucking eyes!” as the Thrash mayhem stops and starts, trading riffs and vocal shouts, Leon upping the intensity with the inclusion of blast beats over the Thrash brutality. The chorus follows, with slower paced drums shifting the tempo. The chorus riff is Thrash to the core, with the inclusion of harmonic scrapes giving a modern touch. The stop/start verse ups the ante again before we go back into the chorus. The middle section kicks in with a slow Thrash breakdown that includes harmonic scrapes and pick scrapes that give a slight Gojira vibe. It’s a welcome change of pace to the upped tempo of the previous half of the song, allowing for headbanging galore insanity to ensue.
The speed is dialed up to 10 again with some killer lead work over the top. The solo has some nice harmonic layers to it that would have Alex Skolnick nodding his head in approval. A short break leads into mid-paced Thrash affair, with a second solo to satisfy those in need of their shred fix. After a quick transition and some build up, we go back into the opening riff, with the verse and chorus rearing their ugly heads one last time. Ensuring that they leave a statement on all who listen, Exa plow into a devastating outro breakdown that pummels the listener as it fades, leaving them battered and bruised. It’s slow, heavy and ends the song in brutal fashion.
Overall, this song is great single from the band. The riffs are killer, with enough variety in tempo to never keep the song from going stale. The modern-day touches add refreshment to the old school riffs, giving them an extra boost of energy that keeps the listener engaged. Tom’s vocals are solid, sticking at mostly one pitch but occasionally utilizing higher and lower registers to great effect, which helps make sure that it’s not just monotone barking for 4 minutes. Tom’s lead playing is also great, with enough shred in there to satisfy shredders, and enough harmonic layers to add a sense of melody so it’s not just mindless shredding. The two solos are well-written and are executed brilliantly. The rhythm tracks are tight and sound incredibly chunky, with plenty of meat to the chugs and clean playing allowing for every note to stand out.
The bass is what it needs to be, opting for a straight up approach of just locking in with the drums and the riffs, providing the meat of the band instead of going out of the way to be fancy. It’s smart and effective, doing what needs to be done instead of trying to show off their chops. The drumming is varied and played excellently by Leon. Lots of changes between tempos keep the riffs feeling fresh and the inclusion of blast beats is a great idea over the old school Thrash riffing. It adds another element of modern flavour to keep this Thrash feast tasty and interesting.
The production is incredibly clean, with crisp guitar tones, chunky bass, clear vocals and pulverizing drums. Everything is clear and present within the mix, you can hear every element of the song with great ease and nothing is buried or over-shadowed by the other instruments. The song is a well-written, well performed piece of Thrash that should make every Thrash fanatic happy, new or old. It’s easy to see why these four blokes from East Berlin are starting to kick up a storm in the Thrash world with songs as good as this. If you aren’t on the ExaThrash train to riff town, then now would be the optimal moment to get on board.