18 September 2015

Exxasens - Back to Earth

Well it is good to have Exxasens back!  Exxasens are a band who we have been following for a while (here is a link which will take you to all reviews of Exxasens on the website here), I have played their songs on the radio over in the UK and I always have a skip of joy in my heart when they turn up when my collection is on random.  So it is safe to say that I am a fan of their work. Brief backstory again - hailing from Barcelona, Exxasens have been going since 2008 and have released four albums before this one.  Their last album 'Satellites' made out top 50 albums of 2013 and I have been waiting for their next release; to say I am excited about this release is really an understatement, so now it is time to find out how the album sound....

The opening track of the album is called "Supernova" which starts off very slowly, a simple repeating chord, open drumming that is soon joined by a post rock guitar sound that acts as the linchpin for the song as the instrumentation builds towards the inevitable moment where everything takes flight again and the sound explodes once more.  When the song enters the main section of the song it is akin to "Rocket to the Sky", but without repeating itself or copying the previous number.  It sends shivers up and down my spine with such ease, the ending when it gets heavy is a brilliant breakdown to this listener.  "My Hands are Planets" hits the ground running, it is straight into the main section of the song and throws some string sections into the mix.  For just under four minutes it does not let you lose your attention on this shoegazing anthem, the band sound fantastic on this number and there is not a note wasted - the only negative point here is that it is over too soon.  Following on is "Hugeness" which starts with the bass taking the mantle of the song and sounding (and with no sense of irony) massive, as if it is a living creature going through the cosmos - sorry for being fanciful, but it is a very emotive beginning.  The rest of the instruments start off is a delicate way, but that soon gives way to a massive riff that sounds like a storm is going on above you head.  For six minutes plus, you are locked into a journey with the band and it is one of the heaviest song I have heard from the band; it is also the song of the album for me, it have everything you want from Exxasens - drama, excellent music, a song you can get lost in and some brief vocals as well.  This in turn gives way to the brief interlude track called "Oniria's Interlude" it is 51 seconds of piano, strings and guitar which marks the half was point of the album, it is over so quickly that it does not make too much impression.  It is haunted, but too brief.

The second half of the album starts with "Your Dreams Are My Dreams", it comes out in a blaze of glory and determination from the very first note.  It is an intense and beautiful number that makes the listener take notice from the beginning.  From a relatively small introduction, it goes into a heavy track that keeps the emotive section of the band's sound firmly set on the level known as drama.  The guitars are on fire for this one, it is something that sounds both familiar and new at the same time - it also does not fall into the traps of being either dull or boring, it just sounds epic from the very beginning to the very end.  Again it is a song that ends a little too soon for me, but I would rather have a song end too soon then outstay its welcome.  Track six is called "Bright Side of the Moon" and this starts off with a quite reverb, some didgeridoo noise and then the band coming in slowly coming in.  It starts with the guitars plucking their way along the riff, then the drums come in gently, followed by more guitars, followed by the bass which starts to fill the room.  It circulates around, not giving too much away as this song is an eight minute beast that I have wished for throughout this album.  It really does take its time in building up the song, you are given hints of the euphoric moments along the way, each one of which delivers in droves.  The song naturally ebbs and flows like water along a beach and you can truly be lost in the song, so much so that after the eight minutes have past that you are wondering how it flew by so fast.  The penultimate track is called Saturn, this is the only song on the album which has lyrics and it came as a bit of a shock when you were not expecting them.  Whoever the vocalist is they have a voice that sounds like grunge heaven, both smooth and rough at the same time and it transforms this song into something more.  I am quite glad that it is the only one to add these vocals, because I think the other tracks work so well as instrumentals and it makes this one shine like a ruby in a sea of multi-coloured gems that you can allow to flow through your mind and dip into at any point.  The music is in keeping with the rest of Exxasens work, as graceful as a bird in flight and as powerful as the wind when it is necessary and gentle as the breeze the next moment.  Ending the album is the title track “Back to Earth” which feels conflicted in some ways.  Let me explain, it hold a much harsher tone to the rest of the album, the riffs are chunkier, the drums more aggressive, the atmosphere is claustrophobic and it feels as if the re-entry from the musical plain that they have been orbiting is not the easiest ride.  Then halfway through it goes into an electronic plateau and it changes to the song to a gentle beast that is floating back down to the surface of the planet.  It is almost as if re-entry is trying to burn up the band and then it is drifting towards the surface with the parachutes deployed.  It is a song of two halves and it is done with confidence, conviction and grace.

This album is another brilliant release from the men of Catalonia, once again it is another leap on from their last release, without sacrificing that unique sound that can only be describe as their own.  From the first sound to the gentle glide back down to the surface of the planet, the band keep you enthralled in their charms and you really do not want it to end.  The only gripes are superficial to me (some track I wish were longer – silly I know) and everything about this album is a joy to these ears.  If they do tour near you, go and see them – purchase the album as it is another excellent addition to their already stellar collection. 

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track – Bright Side of the Moon

You can purchase the album from the Exxasens Bandcamp page here

You can visit the Exxasens website here

You can follow their activities on Facebook here

The album is not on Spotify yet, but when it does appear it will be on this page (the Exxasens artist page)

You can stream the album on Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

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