Observing the path of a band's musical growth can be a trying experience, with the truly rewarding moment arriving when they approach the crux of their development. Moments hinting at their full potential are often both fleeting and sparsely scattered, growing increasingly frequent and convincing with each release. Generally speaking, there is a point in every band's discography that one can point to and say, "that's where it happened", a point which arrives after a consequence of steady improvements between releases. As such, Excellion’s sudden and unexpected maturation came as a welcome surprise. The embodiment of this immense growth and the realisation of the band's potential is their fourth EP release, titled Unsean.
This release primarily features no-fluff progressive metal that draws heavily on post-metal and ambient elements, resulting in emotive passages regularly interspaced by groove-oriented instrumentation in odd time signatures. According to their previous releases, Excellion have always written relatively accessible records, and Unsean is no exception. Structurally, the music isn't particularly challenging, with a single listen sufficient to digest the material. What does impress me, however, is that the EP and the songs alike have a veritably organic flow that deviates from your usual fare of modern prog. The songwriting takes on a very natural cadence: key-driven ambient passages swell into multi-layered, moving performances glazed with tasteful leads and impassioned vocals before dwindling once more into a state of calm. The crisp wall-of-sound production finely complements these undulations and is certainly one of the highlights of the album.
Having been familiar with the band's previous work, I was struck by two changes to their sound in particular. Firstly, the vocals are of an entirely different calibre. Equally capable of smooth cleans, screams and growls, Frozen Chava’s multifaceted, mid-range performance proves a perfect fit for the band's style. He also takes his place as one of three guitarists, which brings me to the other change in their sound.
With Unsean, Excellion has truly blossomed into a unique and mature stylistic identity. The synergy of this new line-up is one to be reckoned with, crafting impressively well-knit songs that take on dense post-metal, groovy prog, metalcore and rock. Any fan of brooding progressive metal would find themselves right at home with this EP. Excellion will, without a doubt, take their newfound inspiration and passion to greater heights, and when they do, I will be there.