Sound — 8
Exemption, touched upon in February's Unsigned Bands of the Month feature originate from New York and, with the Rabbit Hole, released last Spring, boast their diverse range of credentials. Try to visualise a Steel Mill. The blast furnace, the scene of such volatile temperatures in the steel making process is Exemption at their most intense. Exemption manages to blend Pantera, Nine Inch Nails and the Misfits while remaining true to the legend of Johnny Cash is no easy task. It does not seem to be logically plausible for a band of such youth to make jazz and metal work together, but, spearheaded by Nicky's unbelievably smooth transitions from pinch-harmonic-brutalising-brutalising-metal-rhythm mode to I-am-an-accomplished-guitarist-and-I-am-not-bound-by-genre mode on songs such as Hellion Ardor, on which he plays the most silky-smooth jazz chords conceivable. Of course, 'metal riffing' is another of his talents, and he is most certainly intrepid in his sophisticated shred solos, exemplifying his virtuoso approach to this album. Demonstrating his squealing shred on Hot Sauce and Swing Darling, Nicky pushed the boundaries of modern music, which, has recently been mundane -- not anymore says Nicky. That said, for Nicky's most intriguing guitar work, the listener should pay scrupulous attention to Chunderpuss and Swing Darling, Chunderpuss in particular highlighting his flexibility. No band can be deemed to an accomplished band without an equally proficient rhythm section, and Tom, the bassist and singer (did I mention Exemption is a three-piece band) provides the necessary cadence to best complement the band's groove, Honey Glazed Lucifer exemplifying the band's musicianship and sheer intensity. A minor criticism to be levelled at the band is that on occasion, they can be accused of 'excessive' indulgence during sections of the longer songs, with some even closing in on the ten minute mark -- it's not that they don't pull it off, it's that some listeners may prefer shorter bursts.
Lyrics — 8
Vocally, Tom is the source of much joy. Like honey, his voice is viscous, and, like the band, very heavy, but this is only a constituent to the splendid sweetness of the band -- arsenic, but poignantly tight. Tom rasping bellows on Honey Glazed Lucifer in particular are particularly imposing, for his vocal chords, sound like Link Wray's amplifier did when he stabbed it with a pencil, as the story goes. Just listen for the impassioned bawl of Motherf--ker on satirical tracks Chunderpuss! It is a relief to hear a vocalist who is not resorting to present day trendy screaming.
Overall Impression — 8
Exemption not only comprises of three musically gifted individuals, but tracks such as Bear Foot are a testament to the band's tightness and ability to click with each other. They have toured with the Misfits, and, being more tangible and relevant than the Misfits have been for the good part of twenty years, should be headlining similar venues to the Misfits in years to come. The Rabbit Hole is available on iTunes, and CDBaby, and the band's myspace page, located at MySpace is as striking as the band's musicianship. Finally, a serious unsigned band must not only sound good, but should also have a work ethic like that of a factory worker in the 19th century. Exemption appear to have this capacity, and sent this reviewer 2 copies of The Rabbit Hole for Ultimate Guitar review -- other unsigned bands I have encountered do not have this appetite, and this is why Exemption deserve to be lauded as the next big thing. Exemption is currently recording an EP that shall be paramount to their realising of their potential -- let us hope it does not disappoint.