28th October 2016 – Primordial Records
02. In Hindsight
03. Invisible Lines
05. Follow Alone
It may seem strange, but there isn’t often a lot of progression in progressive metal. As a band, if you’ve found a sound that works, why deviate? Of course, there’s more to it than that – odd time signatures, polyrhythms and widdly fretboard hi jinks are hallmarks of the style as a genre, rather than a verb – but it’s rare to find groups that you can tangibly watch grow, year on year and album to album, which is a shame because it’s very fulfilling as both a fan of music in general, and someone who’s spent the best part of the last decade paying attention to bands and their advancement.
Which brings us to Exist Immortal, the very embodiment of betterment. Both recorded and live, the west Londoners have tangibly grown over the course of their career, from clearly talented but unpolished youngsters to the singularity they present on second album Breathe.
Meshing the rhythmic tendencies of modern progressive metal with more popular, recognisable song formatting, Exist Immortal have not only a shrewd eye for composition, but the talent to utilise both what they see and hear around them, and their own innate talent. The remaining trio of original band members – vocalist Meyrick de la Fuente, bassist David Billote and guitarist Kurt Valencia – have been working together for more than five years, and the latter two even longer. In fact, in these two is such a developed, almost psychic affinity that every exotic pulse and offbeat cadence works remarkably well in the context of each song, even if they are progressive as fuck.
Newer members Charles Bines and James Hewitt are not exactly holding back the good ship ExIm either. Since joining two years ago, Charlie has been key in crystallising the band’s live show in particular – just an absolute rock behind the kit – and newest ‘Immortal’ James’ solos are frown-inducingly technical, but markedly reserved, to the point of inducing disappointment when he cuts short his forays across his fretboard.
Crowning it all is a masterful performance from Meyrick. Ever a dab-hand at both sides of the vocal coin, with deft cleans and stirring roars, the way he constructs his melodies and infuses songs with attention-arresting bellows at all the right moments marks hims as one of Britain’s most intelligent, nuanced young metal vocalists.
The title track is a major standout, meshing a decidedly upbeat, Intervals-esque intro with an infectious bounce and classic Exist Immortal verve. Lead single “Follow Alone” remains as vitally flawless on repeated listens as it did when it first dropped, and the penultimate, ultra-serene “Release” provides a reflective moment before closing barnstormer “Chi“. What’s key is that no song relies on any one member to drag it along; these are five extremely well-oiled working parts, all working together very, very well.
I’ll admit that Breathe has been a grower for me; not immediately and absolutely infectious, its talons nevertheless have continued to sink in over time and rewarded perseverance. Perhaps it’s the absolute precision with which they’ve nailed their professional song structure that it almost seemed like it was too polished. I realise now that this is nonsense, but such oversights are hopefully permissible.
If you hadn’t yet clambered aboard the Exist Immortal bandwagon, perhaps now is the time – you know, so that you can still say you were there before they made it big. Breathe is exceptional, with the qualities of both a band aggressively refining their core sound, but with plenty of room to expand and, well…breathe. More please, and soon.