Exhorder – Mourn The Southern Skies Review

Nuclear Blast

Seminal NOLA based groove metal collective Exhorder are finally releasing their majorly anticipated third album Mourn the Southern Skies, their first album in over 27 years.

They are often considered the originators of the groove heavy style of thrash metal, with Kyle Thomas’ vocal style a clear influence on Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo. The bands came into their groove metal prominence in 1990 with Pantera releasing Cowboys From Hell three months before Exhorder issued their debut Slaughter In The Vatican. Perhaps it was the heavy-handed naming of their debut, but Exhorder would never reach the critical and financial success of their peers. But what they had was a legacy of two great groove metal albums that unfortunately get forgotten far too often.

For fans who wanted more of what Exhorder did with The Law back in 1992, I am happy to report that you definitely get what you want here, right from the angsty thrash of the opening salvo “My Time” which is paced by pure speed. If you want to hear more that groove influence look no further than “Hallowed Sounds,” which feels like a thrashy time capsule for something from Headbanger’s Ball circa 1992. There is a constant mood about Mourn the Southern Skies and it is an atmosphere that is almost nonexistent in current day metal. This album is angry and it is a palpable feeling from start to finish.

The band is a mix of old and new parts. Vocalist Kyle Thomas is also the current vocalist for Chicago-based doom legends Trouble where he does a great job replacing another legend in Eric Wagner and founding guitarist Vinnie LaBella resumes his axe duties. The rest of the group which is led by Heathen bassist Jason Viebrooks are new, but won’t notice because this is the sound of a band coming back to what it knows best, how to groove and do so with furious emotion. There some longer form songs on the latter half of the album like “Yesterday’s Bones” which could almost be the band’s answer to “Floods,” and the title track is a nearly 10 minute dirge of its own making.

Exhorder reformed a few years back to fanfare from the underground that never forgot their contributions to a vital American scene that was dominated by similar bands; some that had more success that Exhorder’s initial nine year run did. Exhorder have seemingly resurrected themselves along with the groove metal genre in 2019 to release some of the best material the band has ever written. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs from a quarter century ago, because Exhorder have done the same. No excuses!

(released September 20, 2019 on Nuclear Blast)

Heavy Music Headquarters Rating:
4.5

Watch Exhorder – “My Time” Video

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