“That was some freaky-ass shit right there, I loved it!” said Expires’ vocalist Josh Kelting after just watching Exalt’s set at this years Koi Fest. The same could be said for my feelings towards Exalts’ second full-length record: Pale Light. This eleven track LP took me on a rollercoaster the way the tracks were laid out. Going from fast snare beats to slow doom back up to fast punk in an evenly, efficient and effective ride all throughout the album.
I first must start this review by saying the album cover by Stephanie Mill is nothing short than amazing. It has a man dressed in all black, with long brown hair holding a single lit torch out in the middle of an empty, wide forest. It gives off the impression before a song is even played that the album is going to have a feeling of hopelessness, disparity, and eerie-ness. That is exactly what Pale Light delivers. The backing vocals by guitarist Ben Waugh give off that sense of disparity and hopelessness the way he cries off into the mic in such tracks like “Forsaken” and “Fear is the Hand”.
Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Pale Light was the sick drum fills. Drummer Tim Waugh executes amazing fills in tracks like “Greying” and the three minute drum and guitar outro on the track “Feed”. I really like how creative this three minute outro was consisting of just beefy, heavy guitars accompanied by on time tribal feeling drum fills making me think like I was about to get burnt to the stake from an indigenous tribe in the amazons or something. Feed is for sure my favourite track off the album without a doubt.
Throughout Pale Light I really dug the chemistry between the two guitarists. It was as if they fed off of one another. An example of great guitar chemistry would be in the songs like “Deafen” or “Flesh to Ash”. In Flesh to Ash one guitarist would lay down a heavy sounding filler before the next verse and the other provided a sweet sounding feedback. I loved their synergy.
Finally, the thing that made Pale Light standout to me the most were the effects used throughout the album. It provided an eerie, haunting, horror-ish feel through some tracks specifically “Pale Light” and it was refreshing to hear some reverb, atmospheric, delay sounds in a hardcore band.
This album is a must-listen-to if you want to hear a heavy (Did I use that word yet?), doom sounding band that creates a sense of tension and un-easiness in a creative, different way than most hardcore bands are doing today.
Review by Lukas Foote | @athlukas