Exhumation play death metal right out of the early days. This is old school in a way that many bands don’t dare to do. Guitar tone, production, song structure, riff styles, and so on all bring to mind many of the great pioneers. Opus Death is the second album of this Indonesian band.
Let’s start with the best part: the soloing. Despite the sound and feel of these songs, the solos add something new to let Exhumation stand out. The solos are sometimes well-executed, wild, chromatic riffing around the main ideas that reminds me of Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness.
Other times, the solos are long and melodic with almost jazzy alterations to the scales (see the second track). The choice of solo placement in the song and solo style is excellent. It takes the album from a good attempt at imitating the classics to something better that can be remembered on its own terms.
Some may say it is not the riff itself, but what the band does with it that makes excellent death metal. If this is the case, Exhumation are excellent. They use their riffs in all sorts of ways to construct interesting, constantly changing songs.
Unfortunately, I think only about half of their riffs are good on their own. Sometimes they think outside the box to create some strange yet memorable ideas (see “Possessed”). Other times, I find the ideas a bit too simplistic to be interesting.
Still, something has to be said about the talents of the songwriting in this band if they can take ideas I don’t find interesting and still make songs I find interesting out of them.
The other thing Exhumation does well is to take a “whole album” approach that is often hard to find these days where people can download individual tracks. They have a few beautiful songs (middle and end) consisting of piano and acoustic guitar. These not only add variety, but round the album out by contributing to the overall sound in diverse ways.
The main aesthetic is an unrelenting and punishing album made out of old school ideas but with a modern twist. The second half of the album is better than the first. This may be intentional, because the songs seem to become more complex as the album progresses.
Overall, I’ll give this an 8.5/10. Here’s a sample: