Exmortus is an American melodic death/thrash metal (maybe) band. Known for their unique blend of various subgenres, emphasis on high-flying guitar pyrotechnics, and energetic live shows, they have worked their way up from an underground favorite to a relentless touring force on the cusp of the mainstream.
Formed in Whittier, California in 2002 by Jadran "Conan" Gonzalez (guitar, vocals) and Mario Moreno (drums), the band went through various members early on and released a slew of demos before eventually settling on a lineup that included Artak "Tak" Tavaratsyan (guitars) and Balmore Lemus (bass, vocals); this lineup released the Reign of the War Gods EP in 2006, which attracted underground attention and picked up some steam on a then-booming MySpace. They followed up with the In Hatred's Flame EP the following year, which attracted the attention of Heavy Artillery Records, a fledgling indie label. Tak also left sometime around here; Daniel Duarte joined on bass as Lemus moved to Tak's old spot, and with Heavy Artillery's attention came a hasty reissue of In Hatred's Flame in 2008 with several new songs. Now with national distribution on their side, the band began to take off as a promising young talent. Various tours occurred around this time, though Lemus left sometime around 2010 and was replaced with Sean Redline. A demo for a new song entitled "Entombed with the Pharaohs" was released in 2010 and seemed to point to a more death metal-oriented approach. In 2011, Beyond the Fall of Time, their sophomore release, dropped, though label issues had postponed the release. The band began to tour in support of the album, but Heavy Artillery Records folded in 2012 after a long history of mismanagement and left the band without label support. Redline and Duarte wound up leaving during this time; the former was replaced by David Rivera, while the latter was replaced by Clodoaldo "Aldo" Bibiano. It was during this period of time that they also began writing for their third record while in the process of shopping for a new label. They were in luck; sometime during 2013, they signed with Prosthetic Records and recorded their third album, though Aldo left within the year due to his need to support his newborn child and was replaced by Jovanni Perez.
On February 4th, 2014, Slave to the Sword was released and marked their first release on a large label. This also marked their first time touring with big-name acts by way of a slot with Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum, followed by another tour with their buddies in Lich King. In addition to their newfound touring opportunities, they also recorded a brief advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy S5 with Virgin Mobile, bringing them to national attention. Perez also left around this time; while Aldo returned for a few months, he was gone again by 2015, and Mike Cosio took his spot. After the whirlwind of touring had concluded, they marched back into the studio, and Ride Forth, their fourth full-length release, was announced for a very early 2016 release. More touring will inevitably follow.
- Dawn of Apocalypse (2003) (demo)
- Onward to Battle (2004) (demo)
- Promo (2006)
- Reign of the War Gods (2006) (EP, was rerecorded several times with a slightly different tracklisting)
- In Hatred's Flame (2007) (EP)
- In Hatred's Flame (2008)
- Entombed with the Pharaohs (2010) (single)
- Beyond the Fall of Time (2011)
- Immortality Made Flesh (2013) (single)
- Slave to the Sword (2014)
- For the Horde (2015) (single)
- Ride Forth (2016)
- The Sound of Steel (2018)
- Legions of the Undead (2019) (EP)
This band contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absentee Actor: David Rivera and Mario Moreno from the end of 2017 until 2018, when they formally left. They were explicitly still in the band until stated otherwise, but both had pressing personal issues that have prevented them from being able to do anything with the band and eventually forced them to leave. This extended to recording, as Chase Becker and Carlos Cruz tracked their fifth full-length and are touring with them as session members.
- Afro Asskicker: Mario Moreno was a rare Hispanic example at times.
- Ascended Extra: Adrian Aguilar.
- Cover Version: They have covered "Painkiller", "Freewheel Burning", and "As Above, So Below", and they have also covered "Bark at the Moon" live.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In Hatred's Flame is significantly heavier and more death metal-oriented, and Beyond the Fall of Time, while closer to their later sound, is still markedly heavier. This is likely due to the absence of David Rivera, who helped shape their later sound.
- Epic Rocking: "Kneel Before the Steel" (6:12), "Entombed with the Pharaohs" (6:20), "Left to Die in the Paradox of Time" (6:21), "The Gathering" (6:04), and "Fire and Ice" (6:10).
- Genre-Busting: Even they don't know what they are. This is the result of mixing thrash metal, death metal, power metal, glam, and shred in the way that they blend them all together.
- Harsh Vocals: A fairly clean rasp, but harsh vocals nonetheless.
- Instrumentals: "Axes of War", "Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)", and "Appassionata".
- In the Style of...: They have recorded their own interpretations of "Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)" and "Appassionata".
- Lead Drummer: Mario Moreno formed one-half of the core of the band until he left.
- Melodic Death Metal: Probably the most accurate label (though it's still not perfect).
- Metal Scream: Jadran Gonzalez is a Type 3.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually a hard 8, though their heavier tracks creep into a 9. In Hatred's Flame is a hard 9/soft 10.
- New Sound Album: Several:
- Beyond the Fall of Time was heavier overall and had some Progressive Metal leanings while placing slightly less emphasis on the shred leads.
- Slave to the Sword majorly downplayed the death metal elements in exchange for upping the power metal influences and taking a more direct songwriting approach.
- Revolving Door Band: They went through a ridiculous amount of members early on, and while they have grown more stable over the years, their turnover is still reasonably high.
- Screwed by the Network: Almost happened (Heavy Artillery was apparently run by a complete idiot who badly mismanaged the label, and it fell apart once the retro-thrash boom died off), but they were lucky enough to stay afloat for long enough to land a deal with Prosthetic.
- Sibling Team: Jadran Gonzalez and Mario Moreno are cousins, so close enough.
- Signature Style: Thrashy but more overly melodic riffing mixed with a whole lot of harmonized and dueling shred leads and raspy, vaguely shout-like vocals that just barely qualify as harsh vocals.
- Special Guest: Due to personal issues that have kept David Rivera and Mario Moreno from being able to do anything with the band since late 2017, Chase Becker and Carlos Cruz will be tracking their fifth full-length. Becker is still in the band, with his status being somewhat unclear, while Cruz stuck around until they found a full-time replacement in Adrian Aguilar.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Jadran Gonzalez took over on vocals after Balmore Lemus left the band.
- Technical Death Metal: Beyond the Fall of Time flirted with this at times ("Entombed with the Pharaohs" and "Destroy").
- Teen Genius: All of the founders and most of the early members were in high school when they formed.
- Updated Re-release: The full-length version of In Hatred's Flame was basically just the EP with a couple new tracks thrown in.