Spanish prog metal outfit Born In Exile’s second full length is filled with dramatic tension, gripping atmosphere and musical prowess. Titled Transcendence it takes several steps from debut album Drizzle of Cosmos (2017) while remaining in the same spirit; the production is much greater, highlighting the gritty guitars and melodic hooks as well as the mighty vocals of Kris Vega. The songwriting is massively improved as well, showcased in the eight tracks each suitable for a single, but also as a whole driving toward the elevation of the entire album, which has a great flow and progression throughout its 47 minute runtime. Driving melodics and hypnotic vocals give it a feel similar to The Spectre Beneath’s phenomenal debut album, while the harsher edge and Symphony X inspiration adds a more unique Born In Exile flavor.
Opening track Enchantress blasts things of like a thunderstorm, Vega howling and biting atop furious guitar licks and a driving progression that brings everything to a massive climax. Among the list of the album’s many fine qualities, one of the very finest must be the guitars and especially the melodic highlighting and soloing; the structuring turns every song into veritable behemoths especially toward their climactic zeniths, all highlighted by increasingly powerful performance by Vega. The ending of the album is every bit as strong as the rest of it, if not more; The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper is an eerie, growing and highly atmospheric bit that pulls all the strings right to hit something akin to the haunting atmosphere that Witherfall so perfectly struck on their first album. Closer Torch is another absolute highlight, melodic and fluid with all the hallmark charging riffing the rest of the album serves up, but with a little something extra in Vega’s performance, range and passion on full display, almost closing in on progpower territory.
Carlos Castillo and Joaco Luís’ riffing is memorable and gritty, Lucas Comuñas’s bass lines bellowing deeply alongside the guitars. The leads meanwhile take charge and lead the fury with power. From the folksy inspiration in Living Inside Me to the eerie buildup in The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper there’s always interesting guitar antics going on, and the soloing throughout the album is sweet, driving and powerful without venturing into showboating. The versatility in the influences on display is tangible; Living Inside Me offers up some hypnotic, almost middle eastern inspired melodics that hearken to the likes of Myrath while mid album One More Line, a shorter but incredibly passionate semi ballad that divides the album in twain and gives it a much needed break from the relentless, heavy charge the first half delivers. Transcedence is a great album in its own right with plenty of highlights not only in the track list but within the tracks themselves, and no outright weak spots. It may not be perfect, but it’s still a damn worthy listen and an album to remember.
Standout tracks: Enchantress, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Torch