As discussed in Rough Hand‘s review of their first album, Nu metal is making a come back through musicians who have spent their teenage years listening to it before switching to a harder sound. Exalt is another good example of this generation with an album full of the kind of moshy and groovy riffs Harm’s Way has put to good use on their latest album, Rust, meshed together with melodies influenced by the Deftones.
This love for riffs with a lot of groove and melodic vocals is nothing new and started much before everybody and their grandma fell in love with Korn. Disembodied themselves, the godfather of much of the darker edged hardcore found nowadays (Harm’s Way, Xibalba, Old Wounds…) had the same kind of down-tuned, mid-paced riffs and angry melodic vocals. However, even if there is some of the same aggression in Exalt‘s riffs, they also choose to use the same guitar tone found on Adrenaline on Worship or Caro, or the vocals on The Shape and obviously on I dove into the sun which could have been written to be featured on White pony.
Although quite adept at the art of inspiring people to pick up change on the dance floor, their best tune is unarguably the one most influenced by the Deftones, Worship, wisely chosen as the first single. The choice of the most radio friendly song reminds me of the era of Roadrunner where bands were « encouraged » to have a song with melodic vocals as the lead single even if the rest of the material was very different (Chimaira, Dry Kill Logic, downthesun, Slipknot…) but in Exalt‘s case the song is very well written and retains also much of the aggression found in most of the other song.
Other songs, such as Sacrifice to purify or Leave them all behind, lack an obvious hook but remain interesting thanks to the contrast between the roughness of the vocals, the pulsation of the drums and the discordant tone of the guitar in-between the more power-chord heavy riffs. Overall, The shape you took before the ache is an album that doesn’t latch at you immediately but has enough potential to hold your interest for more than just a couple of spins. The biggest problem is to have put all the songs with the most obviously memorable parts on the B side when a better dispersion of the songs would have given more contrast to the most aggressive songs. Although this problem doesn’t take anything away from the quality of the individual tracks, it makes the album a bit less enjoyable and memorable.