Reviews : Albums : Exotherm, "Project 47"

Exotherm, "Project 47"

Exotherm is a weird band. Not weird in a band sense, but weird in an unpeggable, almost non-descriptive way. Short of popping 'Project 47' into your own CD player, Exotherm is not an easy band to classify.

Exotherm axe men Alexander Braikrats and Christian Pirch can definitely hold their own, both in the high-speed power metal sense, and the lifting quality of their leads, and vocalist Georg Laudenberg definitely sets himself apart from other traditional metal singers. It's just that having such variety and such a wide range of bases for the album's songs (of which there are only eight [nine if you include the 'hidden track']) might almost end up being debilitating for Exotherm in the long run.

Also degrading from the Exotherm experience is the thin production on 'Project 47.' These songs actually were originally released in 2002 in fancy CD-R form, and released professionally by Limited Access Records two years later. Now, several months after that release, Dutch distributor Two Fat Men is pushing those now three-year-old songs to the masses worldwide. Unfortunately, even three years later, the production on 'Project 47' is top-end heavy and murky on the low end. Hey, at least that means Exotherm's working on some new material already. That's not to forget to say that 'Project 47' has some pretty good stuff on it, to boot.

"Icarus" revolves around everyone's favorite rebellious kid with wings, and while it doesn't match up to the Iron Maiden classic lyrically, it has some moderately fast and innovative musical arrangements. All the while, it tells the familiar tale of Icarus' flight from his own eyes, thanks to some genuinely memorable vocal melodies and guitar leads, especially at the end of his flight (conveniently located towards the end of the song).

"Believe In God" opens 'Project 47' up at a crawling pace, only to bust wide open with some power / speed metal riffs and harmonic pinches that absolutely reek of European metal. Both "Father" and "Thoughts Like Poison" could almost be classic rock tunes, were it not for some incredibly fast guitar shredding and genuine metallic underpinnings.

"It's Time," however, is a good representation of what makes Exotherm interesting: a heavy metal attitude and delivery with a knack for melody. The song is still a little disappointing, though, because drummer Pascal Azzolin's fast, precise and excellent drum delivery is lost in a murky low end mix, something the whole album suffers from, despite its quality songwriting basis.

"What To Think" might scare some metalheads off by heading into an almost alternative rock direction, only to be redeemed by the 'so metal it's cool' "4...1...," which is in turn followed up by a hidden track that sends listeners for yet another loop. The slightly out of tune hidden track is pretty cool and is quite reminiscent of the acoustic work Angra and Shaman did a number of years back (minus the electric solo and ear-piercing shrieks of the two latter groups), yielding a laid-back tune that still deserves to be called a metal song, despite its soft edge.

Ultimately, Exotherm's biggest setbacks will inevitably be 'Project 47's production limitations and the difficulty that comes with trying to peg each and every Exotherm song into anything but the broadest 'metal' label out there. If you're up for a little bit of experimentation, and don't mind the twists and turns that come after just about every song on 'Project 47,' give Exotherm a shot. You might just like the wide range of inspirations and sounds, despite your love for only one (or a few) different subgenres of the heavy metal world.

As unclassifiable as they might be, Exotherm's got a solid collection of songs here - if you can stand a lot of variety. And I mean a lot of variety.

Standout Tracks

   Icarus
   Thoughts Like Poison
   4...1...

Bob.D