Thrash was huge in America in the 80’s. We had the Big 4: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax along with other big names like Testament, Exodus and Overkill. While we were thrashing our hearts out over here, Germany was in the midst of a thrash metal revolution as well with the formation of their Big 4, which today consists of Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Tankard. These four bands got started from 1981 to 1982, around the same time that metal began to take on a faster and more intense approach over here. In 1985, some new blood coming out of Wiesbaden, Germany hit the scene; a band by the name of Exumer. Exumer released a demo titled ‘A Mortal in Black’ in 1985, and in 1986, they released their first studio album ‘Possessed By Fire’.
‘Possessed By Fire’ is one of the hidden gems of 80’s metal. This album had a lot to contend with considering it was released the same year that three of the best thrash albums in metal history were released: Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’, Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ and Megadeth’s ‘Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?’. Nonetheless, ‘Possessed By Fire’ is a great album, and definitely deserves a listen. Exumer had a sound on ‘Possessed By Fire’ that fell somewhere between the technical abilities of Megadeth and the gritty hardcore punk style of thrash in the vein of early Slayer. However, they had a style all their own with complex, offbeat rhythms and elements of jazz. This album delivers the perfect pairing of nasty, unpolished, gutter level thrash attitude and top notch musicianship.
After ‘Possessed By Fire’, Exumer released their second studio album ‘Rising from the Sea’ in 1987 and another demo titled ‘Whips and Chains’ in 1989 before breaking up in 1991. They reformed again in 2001 to tour and play festivals, but didn’t actually release anything until 2009 which was yet another one track demo titled ‘Waking the Fire’. Exumer share a lot of similarities with Exhorder as far as their career pattern. Both are extremely talented, influential metal bands, but riddled with inconsistency. Exumer, much like Exhorder, could’ve played a much bigger role in the metal scene with their talent, but realistically, it doesn’t always work out that way. Fortunately, Exumer managed to record their third studio album ‘Fire & Damnation’ 23 years after their previous LP. Better late then never, right?
‘Fire & Damnation’ was released on April 6, 2012 via Metal Blade with Mem V. Stein on vocals, Ray Mensh on guitar, Holger Kolb on guitar, T. Schiavo on bass and Matthias Kassner on drums. What I love about this album is the fact that Exumer sound like a band that’s been around for decades, has all that talent, yet still sound like they’re hungry and have something to prove. ‘Fire & Damnation’ is intense, mean and unpretentious with no gimmicks. This album, unlike their previous releases is much more riff/rhythm driven, and more polished as far as production. One aspect of ‘Fire & Damnation’ that isn’t polished is Mem’s vocal contribution. Mem still maintains that tough hardcore punk sound that has always given the band its unique character. Overall, I think this album would really appeal to Slayer fans, and quite frankly, I think Slayer, along with the rest of America’s Big 4 could learn a thing or two from these guys as far as getting back to their roots, and giving fans something to genuinely get excited about. ‘Fire & Damnation’ is old school thrash to the bone.
It appears that Exumer have finally found their groove and are showing no signs of slowing down even though they’ve faced some adversity since the release of ‘Fire & Damnation’. On August 1, 2014 guitarist Holger Kolb lost his battle with cancer and passed away. But in the spirit of perseverance and remembrance, Exumer pushed on and released their fourth studio album ‘The Raging Tides’ in 2016. This is yet another great album from this outfit, and one of the better metal albums released in 2016, even in comparison to the releases of their legendary counterparts.
Check out ‘Possessed By Fire’ and ‘Fire & Damnation’ right here.