Quickie: Exhorder – Slaughter in the Vatican
Imagine, if you will, that this album was released in 1986, putting it with “Reign in Blood” by Slayer, “Pleasure to Kill” by Kreator, and “Darkness Descends” by Dark Angel. It would be hailed as one of the masterpieces of thrash metal. But having been released in 1990, Exhorder is better known as “that band that influenced Pantera”. Admittedly, it’d take a strong ear and some historical knowledge to figure it out, but when the two bands are on good terms (which they were), you have to assume that some sharing of ideas is going on.
But frankly, this album takes after “Darkness Descends” than it does any Pantera album, even Power Metal. It varies more in its pacing, but it it has a good deal of songs which occasionally stretch out a bit and aren’t afraid to groove. Remember, in 1990, there weren’t any jihads against the groove sound – that had to wait a few years. Like each of the three albums mentioned above, there is some connection to death metal (Slayer having the song structures, Kreator having the technique, Dark Angel having the aesthetics) – in Exhorder’s case, they have a distinct percussive style of riffing that leads the drums along on a violent journey. The riffs are more fluid than New York flavored acts like Suffocation, Incantation, etc, but they still have some “chunk” to them – most bands did, anyways, with the exception of bands like Morbid Angel.
Anyways, thrash and death metal fans should be in riff heaven. The band writes a LOT of good riffs and strings them together reasonably well. It’s not close to the 246 that “Time Does Not Heal” offers, but Kyle Thomas doesn’t try to sing normally (although if he did a good job of it, I sure wouldn’t mind), and the songs don’t drag.
Note that this probably isn’t underrated/underknown any more by metal standards, knowing how much the internet exists and is used.