Artist: Exocrine

Album Title: The Hybrid Suns

Label: Unique Leader Records

Date of Release: 17 June 2022

I come at this review as a newbie, unfamiliar with the work of Exocrine, but within a couple of spins through, I found myself wishing that this wasn’t the case. However, it isn’t the greatest surprise in the world because it is only in the last twelve-eighteen months that I have truly embraced the genre of technical death metal to the extent that I have. And when I listen to an album of this calibre, I find myself considering whether this could now be one of all-time favourite genres. ‘The Hybrid Sons’, the fifth album of Exocrine’s career is an absolute belter that plants a giant smile on my face whilst making me scratch my head, wondering how it’s even possible to play music that’s this fast and this intense at times. Much like the latest Archspire album, Exocrine simply blow my mind.

The greatest attribute of Exocrine and ‘The Hybrid Suns’, is the way that it immediately throws a punch to your face and then continues the aggressive attack with barely any let-up over the course of an intense and ferocious ensuing 36 or so minutes. All four musicians within Exocrine bring an amazing array of talent, from drummer Théo Gendron to bassist/vocalist Jordy Besse. However, it must be said that the twin guitar attack of Sylvain Octor-Perez and Nicolas La Rosa is the facet of the band that elevates ‘Hybrid Suns’ to the next level of brilliance in my opinion. Be it lightning-fast solos, flamboyant lead lines and embellishments, or just the sheer variety and quality of the riffs, every single song bursts out of the speakers with something that catches my ear, or gets my head nodding vehemently, often accompanied by a wicked grin on my ever more weather-worn face.

For such a heavy and intense affair, the amount of memorable material that features has to be commended too. ‘Hybrid Suns’ is undoubtedly a progressive/technical death metal album, but Exocrine prove that you can be technically adept and savage, whilst also offering music that is melodic, occasionally very catchy, but altogether a great deal of enjoyable fun. I therefore doff my cap in their direction.

The fun starts from the first second of opener, ‘The Hybrid Suns’, courtesy of some wonderfully bright and breezy lead guitar lines to accompany some of the fastest drumming I’ve heard this year. The sweep-picking is accented by some rich orchestration too, creating a grandiose and captivating beginning to the record. The voice of Jordy Besse is suitably caustic and nasty, delivering what I’d call a dry, higher-pitched rasp for the most part, but indulging in a deeper, more guttural tone when required. To further increase the melody though, the song introduces a chorus of sorts that reprises the orchestration and choral-like embellishments which I find incredibly effective and powerful.

But the opener is just the beginning of the ride though, with a steady stream of excellent, bruising material forming an orderly cue behind it. Coming hard on the tail of the opener, is ‘Dying Light’, another blazing track that sees drummer Théo Gendron almost lose his limbs such is the speed at which he attacks this song. There’s a little more space at times for the bass rumble cut through too, before a deceptively catchy chorus intervenes, complete with amazing lead guitar lines and a female voice to accent the growls of Besse. There’s definitely a more pronounced progressive feel to the track, but it’s no less hard-hitting of memorable as a result. If anything, it’s the equal or better than its predecessor.

To underline the wonderfully heavy and uncompromising tone of the guitars, look no further than the opening moments of ‘Horns’, a song that’s incendiary for the most part with a hint of Nile at their most extreme, especially in the twisted lead breaks. But it also allows a moment of refined quiet that’s deliciously placed.

If I had any kind of gripe with ‘The Hybrid Suns’, it’d be that a couple of tracks like ‘Watchtower’, for example, veer a little too close to deathcore for my liking. In the case of the former, this is manifested in the chosen riffs, the overall tone of the song, and moments that sound like Exocrine are dabbling with breakdowns, or chugging riffs, albeit fleetingly. But this is a minor criticism in the overall scheme of things, and not something that threatens to derail my enjoyment in any real manner to be honest.

You’ve just got to nod appreciatively at the warm jazz influences that come through within ‘Vortex Of Shadow’, or the epic nature of ‘End Of Time’, particularly in the bombastic, heavily orchestrated segments that are laced with beautifully inventive and sublime instrumentation as if you’d forgotten just how proficient these four musicians are. The ultra-melodic sequence towards the end of the song is an utter, unbridled joy to listen to as well.

If that wasn’t enough, ‘Burning Sand’ opens with a gorgeous acoustic guitar melody that’s unceremoniously smashed into a million pieces under the weight of the tech death onslaught that ensues. If my ears don’t deceive me though, a couple of the riffs borrow from the thrash arena, just to add a little something different yet again.

Add to the package some seriously cool cover artwork, and a production that is crystal clear without detracting from the sheer power and technicality of the music, and you’re staring at one hell of an album. I love the way that bands like Exocrine have managed to open my mind fully to the magnificence of technical and progressive extreme metal, because it is a genuine thrill ride when you get to listen to music that’s this intense, this intricate, and this memorable. I’ve been criticised by some for the increase in reviews of albums at the heavier, more extreme end of the metal spectrum. All I can say is that if albums of this quality are presented to me, don’t expect a reduction in these reviews any time soon. And I’m not remotely sorry either. ‘The Hybrid Suns’ by Exocrine is seriously impressive, and fully deserves its time in the spotlight. I urge you to check this out ASAP.

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova

Deathwhite – Grey Everlasting

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika

Seven Kingdoms – Zenith

Brutta – Brutta

White Ward – False Light

Winds Of Tragedy – As Time Drifts Away

Tim Bowness – Butterfly Mind

Denouncement Pyre – Forever Burning

Truent – Through The Vale Of Earthly Torment

Wind Rose – Warfront

Kardashev – Liminal Rite

Artificial Brain -Artificial Brain

Seventh Wonder – The Testament

All Things Fallen – Shadow Way

Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos

Lord Belial – Rapture

Buried Realm – Buried Realm

Stiriah – …Of Light

Remains Of Destruction – New Dawn

Crematory – Inglorious Darkness

IATT – Magnum Opus

Iris Divine – Mercurial

Decapitated – Cancer Culture

Bekmørk – The Path Nocturnal

Septic Flesh – Modern Primitive

Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

Drift Into Black – Earthtorn

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home

Outshine – The Awakening

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones

Zero Hour – Agenda 21

Scitalis – Doomed Before Time

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews


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