Exocrine - Maelstrom

France is no stranger to tech death metal, so when going up against juggernauts like Gorguts or Gorod who have taken the genre to successful extremes, it becomes hard for groups to try to find that right sound that distinguishes from the rest and still fits well in the genre. Exocrine have been at it for a while since their debut in 2015, and five years later “Maelstrom” features a little more of an album release gap compared to their previous ones. Almost going on a one eighty degree turn from their last album entitled “Molten Giant” which was a crushing tech death album comparable to the likes of earlier Gorod, the group now takes on the element of water on “Maelstrom” which still crushes, but in a different way. The group retains its tech death tone through blistering guitar passages, drumming that could rival Cryptopsy, and a multi pronged vocal attack that is anything but one sided along with some more progressive elements to further their sound.

One thing listeners may notice is more prominent use of ‘clean vocal’ use, especially with the opener ‘Maelstrom.’ The clean vocals are a complete surprise because the range is so high one isn’t sure if it’s the same person doing the snarling/ growling or a guest vocalist, but it adds a lot more depth to the music. Of course, the track along with many others is chock full of typical jazzy solos, brutal- yet clean- drumming, and spitfire vocal delivery of the guttural kind that is going to make any fan of the tech death genre grin and see if they can headbang as fast as the drumming. Other tracks like ‘Wall Of Water’ add in electronic elements and bring symphonic, progressive levels to the music, no matter how brief it is, touching on areas that are comparable to groups like Entheos. ‘Orbital Station’ really capitalizes on this, but the band also tends to slide into sounding like an Archspire clone with their tech death style, rather than further progress into their own way. Still, it is a very great imitation and certainly displays their skills on the guitar and drums no less than the other tracks. For those looking for the more straightforward brutality ‘Abyssal Flesh’ cuts back on the prog elements and focuses mostly on how loud the vocals can get to compete with the guitar.

‘Starvation Project’ gets things back more into Exocrine territory by upping the jazz elements and letting the bass work shine more while the vocals almost take on more of a slam death appeal by reaching new levels of guttural, but not so much that it gets to pig squeals. The track simply crushes. Finally with the closing ‘The Chosen One’ we hear the most varied use of the prog electronic elements which seem to build the track on its own rather than support the guitars, drums, and vocals. Like the theme of the album it comes in waves at the listener but doesn’t hit as hard like a furious storm, so those who aren’t used to tech death in general may find this is a great gateway track if they don’t like the heavier or faster ones.

Ultimately, “Maelstrom” is a great follow up to “Molten Giant” that shows the band pushing slightly new directions but not reaching so far out to alienate their former fan base. While sadly there are no epics present like ‘Shape Of New World’ the doses of tech death delivered in smaller bits serve the band well, avoiding any major tangents that may take away from a song that is already great. Definitely a brutal tech death fan’s dream that likes limited progressive elements added in.

4 / 5 STARS 


1. Maelstrom
2. The Kraken
3. Wall Of Water
4. Abyssal Flesh
5. Orbital Station
6. The Wreck
7. Starvation Project
8. The Chosen One
9. Galactic Gods