Texans Vex have certainly delivered the goods with Sky Exile. As expansive as the West Texan Badlands the songs document, the band runs the full gamut of extreme metal emotions on this record, never settling in one niche for long before moving on and grazing fresh musical pastures.
At times you might find this skittish flitting a slight destraction, although I have to say it wasn’t a problem for me. When everything clicks, as it does on the magnificent The Cygnus Light or no-less brilliant Dark Skies Painted, everything makes sense as the band weave together strands of folk, black and death metal in a gloriously progressive mashup that leaves no stone unturned in it’s efforts to represent the vastness of the Texan landscape. It’s bleak, it’s unforgiving, but it’s ultimately very satisfying indeed.
Although the band paint themselves as a ‘melodic death metal’ outfit, to my battered old lugs they sound more effective when they give themselves over to squalling, squalid black metal. Eoghan McCloskey is an incredibly talented drummer who handles all the twists and turns required by this music with aplomb, but he sounds most at home when blasting away behind the staccato, sweeping bm riffage occasionally unleashed by Ciaran McCloskey, Michael Day and Joe Jackson. Similarly Jackson best employs his voice as a screeching, caterwauling bellow in the best black metal tradition.
But whatever the band or I may think they should be termed as, the fact remains that over the course of this record they pretty much master every style they turn their hands to. True, the album finds itself getting bogged down in the first three or four tracks as it establishes it’s story and the listener beds down with what’s going on, but the latter half of the album is pure unfettered class of the sort many bands operating in this area just can’t attain. Christ on a bike, final track 30 Miles From Here sounds like a black metal Rush, and if that’s not enough of a statement to pique your interest I’m at a loss to wonder why you’re still reading this review. If you love extreme, progressive sounds, you’ll lap every last second of this up.