Folk black metal band Exultet from Italy has just released its fifth full-length album, entitled “At the Gates of Christendom“. Born back in 2003 in Palermo of Sicily by Farz (composition, lyrics, guitars, bass, synths and vocals), the band was soon joined by Argoth in drums. As a duo they self-released 3 full-length albums and in 2011 their 4th album “I Soldati della Croce” was released via Sullen Records. In 2012 Argoth left the band. Farz, who was already the sole composer of Exultet, decided to continue his project and in 2014 he presented the promo version of his fifth album that will be released via the American label Martyrdom Records in the beginning of 2015.
Except for the second album “Requiem of a Dream“, which is actually older material, in the other 3 works the band has developed a very interesting personal style, combining extreme epic black metal with medieval, Mediterranean and Arabic folk elements. Farz was always interested in historic epic themes, something reflected in his lyrics so far. The new album couldn’t be an exception, so its first part deals with the invasion of Otranto, in 1480 by the Ottoman Turkish fleet and its second part describes the naval battle of Lepanto (Nafpaktos) in 1571. “At the Gates of Christendom” includes 7 news compositions, plus the remake of the track “The Norman Ascent” from the debut album “Urbs Felix“, with a total duration of 55 minutes. It is the natural continuation of the previous album, without any significant changes in terms of music style. They play epic metal with a raw sound, influenced by extreme black metal, full of ethnic Arabian folk tunes and instruments. Exultet have become true masters of this kind of extreme folk metal and their compositions are better than ever. Guitars are clearly improved, since they have now a more melodic sound, following the tunes and scales of their folk melodies. Synths are used both as samples of traditional folk instruments and as epic symphonic keys and this time they are in a much better balance with the guitars. Several instrumental passages have a more cinematic approach now, adding even more diversity and interest in the songs. In my opinion their production and overall sound still needs a lot of improvement to fully captivate the richness and depth of their compositions, but on the other hand this raw sound and underground aesthetic adds another kind of “beauty” in their epic atmosphere, which is trying to describe fierce battles. Vocals remain in the brutal side, since except for a few narrations and clean epic vocals, Farz sings mostly with black metal screams. While there is a strong concept and a solid atmosphere throughout the whole album, there are also differences between the songs. Some of them are more folk influenced and others, like the 10 minute “Battle of Lepanto“, are closer to the epic battle black metal genre. All their lyrics are in English, written by Farz, except for “Battle of Lepanto” which is written in Italian, based on a book of Gianni Granzotto.
Exultet is a band I watched since its beginning and I like their music and their unique ability to mix Arabic, medieval and epic music with black metal. This is their most complete, melodic, mature and technical work so far, but I am always expecting something even greater from them, mostly in terms of sound production. A bigger variety in the vocals could also help. ”At the Gates of Christendom” will be shortly released via Martyrdom Records in a limited to 100 copies jewel-case CD edition with a 11×17 poster. It comes with a 12-page booklet, whose cover painting is “Battle of Lepanto in 1951″ by the French artist Gustave Dorè. You can visit the band’s official pages below for more details.