The Battle Has Begun Excessum – The Battle Has Begun (independent) 2012

1.  The Battle Has Begun... [intro] (:46)
2.  God Forbid (2:39
3.  Be Gone (3:56)
4.   Outcast (3:13
5.  War (4:25)
6.  Vicious Cycle (6:39)
7.  Ball Of Clay (7:02)
8.  Take To The Grave (4:23)
9. Blessing In Disguise (5:11)

Excessum are a death/thrash metal band from Mobile, Alabama. "The Battle Has Begun" is the band's first independently released CD release. Though I'm tempted to label this release a demo, the overall production and presentation is far more professional than most demo releases. Despite being an independent band, the eight song release is very well produced. However, being that the band is looking to expand beyond independent status and are sending these CDs out a a form of promotion, the one thing they failed to do on this release was include any sort of contact information on the CD or packaging. 

Excessum play modern, extreme, heavy metal with plenty of old-school influences. Musically the band are heavily influenced by late-80's thrash metal bands like Exodus, Slayer, Dark Angel, etc. as well as some of the groove of bands like Pantera and Exhorder. Each song is packed with chugging, heavy riffs and a chaotic rhythm section. Thankfully Excessum isn't caught up in the speed-for-speed sake mentality. A good portion of the songs are mid-tempo with speed being used within songs to give the songs ebb and flow. Some songs, such as "War", are groove laden with those Dimbag-inspired stop/start riffs. The band also incorporates some nice guitar solos, such as the solo on the aforementioned "War" or in the title track. I would have liked to have heard more guitar work peppered throughout the CD. Guitarist Tim Holloway obviously has the chops to unleash some lethal fret burning, so he should let the solos fly more often and screw the modern trends to minimize the amount of solos.

Vocalist Bryant Payne gives the band their biggest connection to modern metal. At times he is a dead ringer for Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, with those low guttural groans and growls. To be perfectly honest, I sort of wonder what this band might have sound like with a thrash metal vocal style, or even some clean vocals, as opposed to just the death metal/metalcore hybrid. (Bryant has since been replaced by Anthony Dean Hare.)

"The Battle Has Begun" is a solid debut from this young band. In talking with the band members, I know they are already working on new material. I am anxious to hear what they come up with.

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