Northamptonshire technical metal machine, From Eden To Exile return to us just when we need them the most with a brand new release 'Age Of Fire'. This EP is every part as incendiary as the title might suggest and is the band's first major output since 2017`s 'Modern Disdain' the unit having undergone somewhat of a lineup change and reshuffle since then.
Part of this change was debuted on single 'Inhuman', which welcomed new vocalist, Tom Franklin into the fold (this track has been re-recorded for this release). They have since gained a new drummer in the form of Jake Patrick (Divine Solace, Agatha) who has taken over from Liam Turland behind the kit. Oh and Joey and Mike decided to switch instruments, probably just for shits and giggles. Either way, now we're all caught up, on to the music.
The EP opens with the title track, 'Age Of Fire'; a technical, thrashy onslaught of blazing beats, blitzing riffs and scorching vocals. In short - it's lit. A complete assault on all fronts that establishes the tone of the EP right away and shows these boys aren't here to play. Rammed with tight, groove-thrash riffage, this track is absolutely relentless. The later part takes on a Meshuggah meets Sylosis vibe while also hinting toward the sound of the bands previous work, with some razor-sharp locked in chugging. The chops laid down by new drummer, Jake Patrick feel spot on and the complex, decimating double kicks really beat through. Tom Franklin's vocals get more intense and anguished as the track progresses, moving between meaty mid range and intense cutting highs.
'Face of desolation' takes on a much more tech-metal/Djent oriented approach, featuring long complex, snaking riffs and tight bursts of intersected chugs, exploring a slightly different palette to the previous track. This choppy offering hits in all the right places and makes for an interesting evolution in the band's sound. It also displays their impressive technical prowess and tightness as a unit. The riffs laid out in this by guitarists Tom Kelland and Joey Jaycock are phenomenal and offer something different to the usual From Eden To Exile sound, without compromising the overall intensity they are known for.
During the meat of the track there is a distinctive recurrent dual melody line at the tail of the verse riff, that slices through like a razor and functions a bit of a hook as the piece goes on. The piece features some dark melodic moments and soaring leads before it all climaxes into a brutal breakdown finale. The final moments showcasing some purely demonic layered guttural vocals that would be right at home in any deathcore track.
The next track on 'Age Of Fire' is 'The Great Disconnect', a track that is more straightforward in its overall approach, opting for more of a directed groove metal attack, displaying moments of Sylosis and Lamb of God amongst their own established sound. There are some intense thrashier blasted moments which contrast really well against the headbang-demanding bounce of the verse and enhance the flow of the piece, especially when combined with the eccentric guitar lines. The low end on this track from bassist Mike Bell sounds huge and is particularly satisfying thundering from behind the guitar solo later in the track when you can hear its tone, clarity and fullness.
The penultimate track on this release is 'Inhuman' which was originally put out in 2018 and re-recorded for this release with the new lineup. This is a behemoth of a track with some serious girth. One of the slower, chunkier offerings on the EP, this track stomps along at a mid-tempo groove and will get every head in the room banging when played live.
The final track, 'Conspire', is a 6 minute epic that journeys its way from intense palm-muted riffage and thrashy beats to emotive, complex and dark melodic soundscapes with some enormous chords. They make great use of moments of clean vocals, showing another dynamic to Tom's abilities and further extending the sound palette. The track ends in a sharp bludgeoning of rapid chugs and some sickening layered vocals.
This release has been honed to a razor's edge and the quality of writing present on each individual track is incredible. This EP feels far bigger than its 5 tracks would suggest and explores some major musical ground along the way, all without compromising the core of the band's distinct sound.
The band probably have more to prove with this release than most, having undergone lineup changes and training up the new members, but after hearing 'Age Of Fire', it's obvious this band is coming back stronger and more relentless than ever. This is a complete trailblazer of an EP and once the world starts spinning again, it'll be one that must undoubtedly be caught live. Until then this could become the soundtrack to the apocalypse for many of us once it drops.