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Exulansis - Overtures Of Uprising review

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Band: Exulansis
Album: Overtures Of Uprising
Release date: November 2023

01. Of Nature & Hatred
02. Overtures Of Uprising
03. A Movement In Silence
04. Dawning

Sequestered Sympathy, the 2019 debut of Exulansis, was a fascinating combination of black, prog, crust and doom metal with a whole dollop of chamber folk that left many eager to see where the band could further take this ambitious fusion of styles. However, in the intervening years, Exulansis appeared to have been convinced of the virtues of compartmentalization.

It’s been a busy couple of months for Andrea Morgan on the release schedule; it was less than 2 months ago that her collaboration with Rebecca Vernon was shared with the world in the form of The Keening’s debut album Little Bird. Beyond that, while she isn’t appearing on the upcoming album from Megaton Leviathan, with whom she parted ways following their 2018 album Mage, she has featured on at least 2 albums released in November, as Exulansis decided, instead of producing a sophomore album, they would follow up Sequestered Sympathy with two albums: Hymns Of Collapse and Overtures Of Uprising. The former of these eschews metal to instead revel in the band’s chamber/acoustic folk side, leaving Overtures Of Uprising to deal exclusively with the harsher inclinations of Exulansis.

To go with this more specific focus, Exulansis have also opted for a more condensed approach on Overtures Of Uprising, which is only 32 minutes long. Now, I know that some users harbor a sense of disappointment that the band have veered away from the melting pot of styles on the debut and fractured their sound into separate records, and I do find myself somewhat in agreement; each of the two new albums lacks some of the uniqueness of Sequestered Sympathy, and the only real element connecting the pair of them is Morgan’s violin. On the flip side, if you take Overtures Of Uprising as the album it is, rather than the one that was perhaps hoped for, it does still contain a good amount of enjoyable material in that brief runtime.

There are four songs here, 2 right around the 5-minute mark and 2 exceeding 10 minutes. The opening track, “Of Nature & Hatred”, is one of the shorter songs, and emphasizes the black metal within Exulansis’ stylistic blend; the combination of relentless blasting and shrieks with the prominent violin does bear a tangible resemblance to some of Panopticon’s material (another band with new music fresh off the press). “Of Nature & Hatred” is enjoyable, particularly thanks to the elaborate violin parts, but it is quite one-dimensional; there’s no real deviation from its initial sound between the first and last second. The other shorter song, “A Movement In Silence”, also focuses on the black metal/violin combo, but features greater range in terms of tempo and intensity. On top of Panopticon, the harsh metal accompanied by the chamber violin also reminds me a bit of Ode And Elegy, and this latter song arguably recapitulates the charm of last year’s Ode And Elegy album more effectively.

Still, it’s the two long songs that bring some of the anticipated diversity. The 12-minute title track opens with a sumptuous chamber piece, the violin given even more of center stage, and this opening sets the tone beautifully for the encroaching blackened assault, affording it more impact than a similar intense delivery managed to elicit on the opening song. It probably also helps that the string melodies are more immediately memorable on this song, and work very effectively in tandem with the guitars once the latter depart from pure tremolo extremity in favour of more complex phrases. There’s also a more sorrowful tone to “Overtures Of Uprising” that nicely fits the music, particularly when it takes a turn to the doomier in its second half.

It is “Dawning”, however, that is the highlight on Overtures Of Uprising. The shrieking vocals that have to this point dominated the album are temporarily replaced with guttural growls, as the pace drops right down; the black-tinged dirgelike doom, with the accompanying strings, sends my mind straight to Abigail Williams’ own string-laden songs (think “The Final Failure” or “Beyond The Veil”). There’s subsequent surges in tempo and aggression, but like on “Overtures Of Uprising”, whether it’s due to the more muted preamble or just better writing, the more intense portions of these songs do a lot more for me than equivalent parts of the two shorter songs. The synchronized violin/guitar arpeggios around the 7-minute mark in particular are a highlight of this wonderfully morose and melancholic composition.

Looking back at the band’s debut after the release of these two new albums, I do feel like Sequestered Sympathy was a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ effort; there was just something about having all these different sounds coalescing that worked better than having any one style focused on in isolation. Therefore, it’s not a surprise to me that it’s the more stylistically variant songs here that deliver the goods; “Overtures Of Uprising” and especially “Dawning” very effectively demonstrate what makes Exulansis such an intriguing band. I hope going forward that they don’t further segment their different constituent components, as a song with as narrow a focus as “Of Nature & Hatred” undersells their songwriting ability, but Overtures Of Uprising is still an album that is very much worthy of your attention.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7

Written on 30.11.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 2   Visited by: 67 users
30.11.2023 - 22:17

I also prefer the debut for the same reasons that Starvynth explained in the album thread, but this one is also a really good album. Like you, I find the longer songs to be more engaging than the shorter ones. I don't know whether you know, but Panopticon and Exulansis are on the same label, Bindrune Recordings.
01.12.2023 - 08:35
Rating: 8

Written by nikarg on 30.11.2023 at 22:17

I don't know whether you know, but Panopticon and Exulansis are on the same label, Bindrune Recordings.

They make sense on a label together

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