Exilia
My Own Army

I’ve been trying to get on AFM Records’ mailing list for a while because they do carry several bands that I like. So I finally get three AFM releases in my hands, and after these reviews, I’m afraid my chances may be shot. First there was Elvenking’s latest, then Magica, now Exilia, and unfortunately, it’s just as lackluster as the other two.

For those unfamiliar, as I was, this is the fourth outing from Exilia, a female-fronted Italian band that plays a modern, commercial-ish brand of hard rock/metal. There are a lot of slinky guitar riffs, bouncy beats and brooding interludes, and musically, it doesn’t sound too different from the heavier end of the spectrum on any modern rock station.

The record opens with singer Masha Mysmane rapping on a Rage Against the Machine-style number, which is unfortunate since I can’t stand Rage Against the Machine. “Are You Breathing?” starts with what sounds like a slowed-down version of the riff from the previous song, and things are off to a bad beginning. The first sign of life on the record for me comes in the third song “The Hunter,” which opens with a Soilwork-ish riff and has an aggressive chorus that at least offers a little energy. “I’m Perfect” has a bit of a Lacuna Coil feel and is probably one of the stronger pieces on the record despite being one of the more commercial songs.

There is, of course, a 1980s cover song here. Exilia takes on Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and delivers up a bouncy, industrialized version that drains all of the original mystique out of the song. It’s far and away the weakest link on the record, and I ask myself again why bands seem so fascinated with covering ’80s pop songs. Sure, every now and then you get something like Alestorm’s “Wolves of the Sea,” but by and large, they’re forgettable if not downright terrible.

There’s a flash here and there. I really like the soft opening of “My Own Army,” which seems to be one of the most genuine performances. It’s one of the few moments that evokes any emotion at all as I listen. Mysmane’s scratchy, hoarse-sounding voice takes on a new life on the stripped-down track and I appreciate it much more here than on the faster tracks. They should really consider doing more stuff in this vein because it’s easily the best song on this album, and one that would get my attention if I heard it outside the context of this record.

The musicians are not bad and Mysmane shows some sparks that make me think she could be a very engaging singer. The biggest weakness of this record, though, is a simple lack of originality. There’s not really a song on here that stands out, and as I listen, I feel like I’ve heard everything here done before and done better. Once I get to the end of the album, I really can’t remember anything about it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
June 14th, 2009

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