After their successful Conquering Europe tour, a series of live shows and being support acts for legends like Flotsam And Jetsam, Sepultura, Sodom and Tankard; EXARSIS went back to the studio. Their new album title? “The Human Project“, a lyrical expansion of the loose socio-political/”big brother is watching us” concept of “The Brutal State”. This time around is focused more on the way it affects peoples’ lives. The album is to be released in June 2015 by MDD records and the production, mixing and mastering was done at D Studios. And here’s a not-so-pleasant spin on the mix/master story for the Exarsis guys: mixing and mastering was to take place at Mana Recordings studios (Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Fueled By Fire and the list goes on and on). But due to the unprofessional and inacceptable behaviour of the man who was in charge of the mix/master process, the band lost lots of money, something that kept them back for 2 months and with an inacceptable result for Mana studios. We heard both mixes and the Mana one was downsizing the level of the album. The guys didn’t forget to thank the D studio owner Mike Karpathiou for saving the day and completing the mixing in almost a month.
But let’s get down to the most important part of the album, the music. Here’s a track by track review of the album:
1. “Arrivals”: Special guests on this one are Chris Tsitsis, George Oikonomou and Aleksis Papatheofanous, all the old members of “The Brutal State” line up. One of the first songs for this album written by Aleksis lyricwise, dealing with the issue of aliens living among us and being hidden by the government (pretty Hangar 18 don’t you think?). Musicwise it starts the album where the previous one left us. Aggressive, full-speed ahead, with sick solos, a blastbeat part and a chorus reminding me of Razor.
2. “Medicide”: The band keeps on bringing down the hammer of aggression more than the previous one, with a blastbeat, insane high-pitched screams by Nick Tragakis (close to Watchtower/Toxik style, a key factor to the bands’ evolution), and a mid-mosh part just to finish us off. A song addressing the issue of diseases being created in labs in order to control the population.
3. “Abnormal Generation”: Lyrically a continuation of the previous song, dealing with how diseased this generation can be with the GM (genetically modified) foods and everything being modified in labs and given to humans. Musicwise, a headbanging track balancing between mid-tempo and full-speed.
4. “Police Brutality”: Full-speed ahead, including a blastbeat and a sick riff under the solo! A track giving the bass some room to breathe, something made evident throughout the production, reminding me of early Testament productionwise. The lyrical theme is self explanatory, police forces in cooperation with the state, in order to breed fear and obedience to the people.
5. “R.F.I.D.”: Stands for “Radio Frequency Identification”. The theory that every human will contain a chip, including all of his information and that in the future he’ll flash it like a bar-code in every transaction of his daily life: banks, supermarkets etc. This chip is currently used on pets, showing information about the owner, the animals’ diseases, owners address etc. Musicwise, an intro riff that could easily be a continuation of “Addicting Life Waste” off “The Brutal State”, fast-paced yet melodic.
6. “False Flag Attack”: A track well-known on YouTube with the Mana mix/master, fast-paced, aggressive in the style of Exarsis we all know, with a slight Kreator edge in the chorus. False flag attack was a way for navy captains some years ago, to create a fictional enemy in order to show the crew that they are its protectors. Same technique was used by Adolf Hitler to blame the communists for burning his partys’ office (while he did it). Perfect way of preaching propaganda. In this song it connects this operation with the famous 9/11 conspiracy theory showing that it was none other than a false flag attack to enter Afghanistan and Iraq.
7. “Know Your Enemy (322)”: This one deals with a secret group called “Skull And Bones” hosted in the famous Yale university, and 322 is a code used between the group members. A masonic order really, including human sacrifice. This track is an phone call intro between a journalist and a “Skull And Bones” member, directly connected with the next one.
8. “Skull And Bones”: In comes a moshing intro riff, creating a mid-tempo track with an extremely catchy chorus and a bass break ala Sepultura/Dark Angel in the middle of the song.
9. “Change Of Plans”: Another moshing intro creates a track balanced between full-speed and mid-tempo showing us Vio-Lence and some Forbidden influences. Lyrically a song about illegal immigrants from the immigrants’ point of view, who left his country to lead a better life and was forced to change these plans, because their boats were sunk into the sea (something happening already legally in Italy).
10. “Brutal State”: An ala “Dying Earth” intro to a fast-paced track, highly addictive chorus. The best way to end the album, with a song I can still remember 3 days after that.
What we have here is a huge step forward for Exarsis, lots of twists and turns in this record, and one of the best Thrash releases from Greece. Old school production yet modern at the same time, an overall Death/Thrash edge to the guitar tone, and the vocal influence include King Diamond. Tim “Ripper” Owens, Toxik, Watchtower, Forbidden and even US Power metal! Something I thought afterwards: if I gave “The Brutal State” a 9/10 rating for being an all-out assault, this gets a 9/10 for being a more varied yet take-no-prisoners assault. And it really sets the Exarsis sound as being immediately recognizable. I know one thing for sure: I wanna listen to this record once more!