Exanimis / Flamboyant and atmospheric, yet brutal and technically excellent

From The Abyss: 10 March 2021

French Symphonic Death Metal outfit Exanimis were formed in 2015 by former students of the Music Academy International, all of whom shared a passion for extreme and technical musical styles. They set out to create a sound that merges the atmosphere of horror and fantasy soundtracks with the heaviness and technical intricacies of Metal.

Exanimis – Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records)

Release Date: 5 March 2021

Words: Jools Green

The result is their debut full length ‘Marionnettiste’, a nine track, sixty-five-minute offering that is as epically flamboyant and atmospheric as it is brutal and technically excellent.

Cover of Marionnettiste, by Exanimis

Sound-wise ‘Marionnettiste’ is reminiscent and clearly inspired by of the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septic Flesh, particularly for the vocal style. But with a little more grandiosity to the symphonic aspect, this is an album that would make an excellent cinematic sound track, so already we have established they have met their remit and matched if not surpassed their sources of inspiration.

‘Marionnettiste’ opens and closes on a couple of linked nightmarish instrumentals with a third located midway, ‘Prélude du songe avant le cauchemar’ and ‘Entracte du sommeil pendant le cauchemar’ both classically styled, piano led pieces with haunting choral elements violin and the final, ‘Épilogue du songe après le cauchemar’, follows the same format but longer in duration. These all set the nightmarish scene of the album and tie everything together with opener.

‘Prélude du songe avant le cauchemar’ flows seamlessly into the richly exuberant ‘The Wrathful Beast’, one of two singles released in 2020, the other being the eerily eclectic ‘Cogs, Gears and Clockworks’.

The whole album is of an end-to-end consistent quality and style. I have no strong favourite track, however I do like the punchy and sinister drama and the second half technical guitar flourish and sinister closing spoken element to ‘Stampede of the 10,000’.

Worth an extra mention is ‘The Slow Flow of the Spume on the Shore’ which brings a little variance to the proceedings. A sultry but sinister slow burner of a track, clean and reflectively atmospheric to start, getting heavier and more brutal and technical as it progresses, but holding on to the symphonic element throughout.

Then there is ‘Cathedral’ the album monster at over sixteen minutes. Filled with symphonic pomp and magnificence, as well as its fair share of the dark and sinister, it is hugely dramatic in its ebb and flow of pace and intensity, keeping you wondering just what is waiting for you around the next corner.

‘Marionnettiste’ was recorded at Boundless Studio and Nine Rings Studios and should be of great interest to fans of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septic Flesh.

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