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For years, riff summoners I Exist have been making a name for themselves with their amalgamation of doom metal and hardcore, conjuring up vivid, cannabis-infused voyages that have been lauded as much for their ferocity as for their finesse. On third album ‘From Darkness’, the Canberra sextet pool these strengths together in a way that feels natural and distinctive, delivering their most powerful, engaging and diverse record to date.
As album opener ‘Lightning Curse’ launches with a misanthropic snarl from vocalist Jake Willoughby accompanied by a crushing and decidedly sinister chord progression, ‘From Darkness’ wastes no time in making its presence and intention known. There’s an immediate, pulverising savagery flowing through the tracks’ veins broken up seamlessly by bluesy doom-esque vignettes. As one might expect, memorable, expertly delivered and certifiably badass riff wizardry is the beating heart of the I Exist machine, and LP3 is packed full of them. This is the second album for which the band has had a trio of guitarists in their ranks, something they take full advantage of.
Progressing through ‘From Darkness’, the album’s core as a motley, dynamic collection of songs that all fall under the banner of ‘heavy’ music begins to shine through. Be it the vicious punk energy on ‘Tear Down the Crucifix’ and ‘Cold World Vermin’, the full-blooded metallic stylings on ‘Bloodlust’ and ‘Eternal Reign’ (keep an ear out for that end solo) or the sludgy idiosyncrasies that underpin the whole thing, ‘From Darkness’ is all over the place sonically. For some bands this is something that would suggest confusion and uncertainty. For I Exist, it merely displays a proud level of versatility and resourcefulness, maintaining coherency and vision despite – or perhaps because of – its variation.
Something that’s always been impressive about I Exist is the way they pay respectful homage to their influences while progressively finding their own sound and eschewing imitation, and ‘From Darkness’ is no different. The groundwork laid by the likes of pioneers Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Eyehategod can be heard in everything from the sublime guitar tones used throughout down to the vocal delivery on songs like ‘Sorrow on Hill 105’. However, rather than cutting and pasting their forefathers, I Exist build upon these foundations to craft something that is fiercely original.
‘From Darkness’ closes with its title track, an 11 ½ minute epic that encapsulates not only the resonating themes of the album but I Exist as an entity. Sprawling and expansive, incendiary and aggressive, it’s a celebration of the band’s continued ability to push boundaries.
A roaring, multi-headed beast of a record, with ‘From Darkness’ I Exist have created their finest album thus far. Taking the best elements of past releases and delivering them with confidence, ‘From Darkness’ sees the band step firmly into their own skin, maturing into the sort of act they’ve been trying to become since the start. A compelling listen.
1. Lightning Curse
2. Heal Me In Smoke
3. Sorrow On Hill 105
5. In My Head
7. Eternal Reign
9. Tear Down The Crucifix
10. Ride To Hell
11. Cold World Vermin
12. From Darkness