EXUMER "Fire And Damnation"

By Dr. Abner Mality

I think every single thrash band that started in the 80's is still going today. Off the top of my head, I can think of very few that have stayed dead and buried...Blind Illusion, Blessed Death, Atrophy. Otherwise, it's a free-for-all, especially in Germany, where tradition dies hard. Here are two holdovers from the days before the Internet, with brand new records. How do they hold up against their past?

Exumer has been a cult name for a long time. These guys ALMOST made it to the same level as Destruction and Kreator with their "Possessed By Fire" album. That was one of the best combinations of German and Bay Area thrash ever created. Well, what about "Fire And Damnation", their latest? I have to say, they do a damn good job of keeping up to the level of their old material. This album has no bullshit intros, ballads or funny's a little over 30 minutes of heads down thrashing. The first track "Waking The Fire" is kind of average, but with "Vermin of the Sky" and "The Weakest Limb", the album hits its stride. Mem Von Stein has been with Exumer since Day One and he sounds as pissed as a teenager whose car has been taken away here. One track I really like is "Crushing Point", which has a catchy, almost deliriously happy riff...good stuff. "Fire And Damnation" does not rate with the classics of all time, but it's a robust and energetic dose of thrash metal delirium.

Necronomicon was never as well known as Exumer, especially in the States, where they are almost unknown. Their album "Invictus" is a mixed bag. When it's good, like on the sizzling title track and killer "Upon Black Wings", it rates with the Exumer covered above. When it's bad, like the godawful semi-ballad "Before the Curtain Falls"  and uninspired "Thoughts Running Free", its more like "sports bar" bad. The lead vocals are unconvincing and lacking power except for the title track, which they somehow fit to a tee. The rest of the songs here are on the up side of average...enjoyable but lacking memorability. The album concludes with a reworked version of the band's most famous number, "Possessed By Evil"...primitive and simplistic thrash. "Invictus" is not a bad album, but not a terribly good one either.

I'd say Exumer has weathered the last 25 years the best.