Just the Tip
Progressive Thrash Metal
Branding themselves as comedic mosh pit dwellers, one would naturally not expect much from Canadian thrash metal band Expain. Yet the mastery that the band presents on their debut album Just the Tip belies the image that the band wants to create for themselves, as the material on the album is certainly some of the most unique and entertaining music that I have encountered in a while.
Album opener Bacchus kicks off the album with jazz-fusion styled clean guitars, and as soon as things kick into high gear with Aggressions Progression one is quickly reminded of the progressive metal of bands such as Exivious and Cynic, though with the death and thrash metal elements that the band has included in their playing quickly brings to mind bands such as Atheist as well. Guitarists Eric and Pat often show off their jazz influences, often inserting clean jazzy licks in the midst of the chaos. Even the solos that are littered throughout the album are also smooth as fuck, yet fits in so seamlessly with everything else that goes on in the album. The bass of Nikko is also another personal highlight, as his playing style is so reminiscent of the various virtuosos that have been a part of bands like Cynic.
The somewhat more sane moments bring to mind the progressive thrash metal style of modern, sci-fi band Vektor or Coroner, with the nice fusion of speed, aggression and technicality along with all the weirdness. Songs like Phoenix Writhing, with the melodic and catchy hooks even remind us of the style of Japanese prog-thrash gods Gargoyle, much to my delight.
Basically, every single element, and every single moment on Just the Tip contains something unique for the listener to discover, and like the name of the album suggests, every subsequent listen to the album makes one realise that one has merely discovered just the tip of the iceberg with the whole host of things going on. Expain may want to be known as a comedic and jovial band, but this has certainly not resulted in the compromise of their musicianship, as Just the Tip goes to show.
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