EXUMER — Possessed by Fire

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EXUMER - Possessed by Fire cover
3.86 | 10 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1986

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Possessed by Fire (4:58)
2. Destructive Solution (3:47)
3. Fallen Saint (4:03)
4. A Mortal in Black (4:04)
5. Sorrows of the Judgement (3:12)
6. Xiron Darkstar (3:13)
7. Reign of Sadness (3:43)
8. Journey to Oblivion (4:18)
9. Silent Death (5:04)

Total Time: 36:26


- Mem Von Stein / vocals, bass
- Bernie Siedler / guitars
- Ray Mensh / guitars
- Syke Bornetto / drums

About this release

Reiisued in 2012 on End of the Light Records in digipak format with the following bonus tracks:

11. A Mortal in Black (demo version)
12. Scanners (demo version)
13. Silent Death (demo version)

In addition the title track is split up into:

1. Intro
2. Possessed by Fire

Thanks to Time Signature for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

When you think of German Thrash Metal, chance are you think of Kreator, Sodom, Destruction or Tankard. Rightly so. One band who shouldn’t be overlooked however are Wiesbaden’s underrated Exumer.

I guess line-up troubles and label issues stopped them getting the same exposure and opportunity as some of their peers, because their sound and formula is perfect for this style of music. Its not blackened or crossover, not progressive or technical, not funky or avant guard, its by the book Thrash, done simply, but effectively. Imagine the missing link between Bonded By Blood and Hell Awaits. Exumer’s cult classic 1986 debut album Possessed By Fire is the closest thing to that missing link. Eschewing the darker, more extreme style most Teutonic thrashers usually opt for, Exumer are Germany’s answer to Californian music (kind of like how Xentrix are for Britain).

The vocals are not the most memorable in the world, but serve the songs. They’re mostly in the mid-range but with occasional high screams. Not too cheesy, not too extreme. The guitar and drums are solid. Not flashy, not virtuoso, but get the job done nicely.

The warm analogue production courtesy of Harris Johns (Voivod, Coroner, Kreator, Sodom) is decent for a Thrash debut (certainly better than Destruction’s early work, less tinny and thin for example).

Highlights include the scream-along Title Track, the more adventurous ‘Xiron Darkstar’ and album closer ‘Silent Death.’

If there was a criticism to be made, I guess lack of originality may be the one to level at this band/album. (They do seem to steal a few sections from other songs **cough** Black Magic *cough* Riot Of Violence** cough). However, no more so than any other C-Tier bands of the era.

A good rule of thumb is that if you take a look at the Jason Vorhees meets Attila The Hun looking artwork and get a nice warm feeling in your tummy, then you will kind of already know what this album sounds like. Does it exceed your expectations, probably not, no, but it does meet them. If you dig albums like Terror Squad by Artillery or Malicious Intent by Razor then you’ll know what sort of level to expect.
Back in the mid-eighties, I was excited about the thrash metal movement. I loved going to the metal section of the local music store and choosing albums to buy based solely on the cover and the band’s logo. I thought I had a pretty good collection going back then, but since last year I have been seeking out old school thrash bands from the eighties and I have been discovering so many that I never heard of.

One such band is Germany’s Exumer. While I was checking out a compilation video of 100 best old school thrash bands on YouTube, the track “Possessed by Fire” from the debut album with the same name came on for ten seconds or so. At the time, it sounded like pretty much everything else in that video, but as with many album covers, this one caught my attention for its absurdity. I would have just forgotten about Exumer had I not found them the next day on a list of 100 old school thrash metal albums on Rate Your Music. The comments for this album were very favourable, and soon I found it on a couple more lists and videos. So I decided to get a hold of a copy.

As it turns out, “Possessed by Fire” is a favourite thrash album of many, and the liner notes inside the CD include a comment from one band member about the album still being loved decades after its release, something that the band member finds “strange but comforting”. It’s interesting to note that the album was recorded by Harris Johns, the same fellow who did Kreator’s “Pleasure to Kill” and Sodom’s “Persecution Mania”, two albums I really like. But one thing that really differs here is the band’s sound. While Kreator and Sodom’s albums sound very brutal and almost like early signposts leading from thrash to death metal, Exumer’s brand of thrash is very much like the early Bay Area scene bands, with albums like Exodus’s “Bonded by Blood” and Death Angel’s “The Ultra-Violence” coming to mind. This is high-toned, speedy guitar thrash with some of the lead breaks sounding like they were inspired by Metallica’s “Kill ‘em All”.

One thing that’s easy for me to appreciate on this album though is how the band switch tempos and add in slower, heavy sections – a common technique for sure but used with sufficient skill on this album. There’s the occasional melodic guitar adding variety to an album that’s built around speed. Some of my favourite tracks include “Fallen Saint”, “A Mortal in Black”, and “Silent Death”, though the maniacal scream of “I am possessed by fire!” in the title track makes this a memorable song as well.

Though I wouldn’t rule out me buying another Exumer album in the future, for now this one was worth bringing home.
Time Signature
Destructive solution...

Genre: thrash metal

Originally released in 1986 and featuring an iconic and extremely recognizable cover artwork which resonates with most people, the music on Exumer's "Possessed By Fire" is probably unknown to most metalheads nowadays. Part of the Teutonic thrash metal wave of the 80s, this band actually became quite popular in the 80s, but eventually slipped into oblivion.

This is about to change, as End of the Light Records has issued this release in digipak format. This gives the horde of you metal kids a chance to check out this cult German thrash metal band.

While Metallica went tech on "Master of Puppets", Exumer continued the style of speed/thrash metal that Metallica introduced on "Kill 'Em All" and further developed on "Ride the Lightening". Thus, Exumer treats the listener to fast and aggressive, and not too complex, guitar riffage with guitars chucking away at your eardrums and Mem Von Stein's aggressive yells violating what is left of your brain. Like early Exodus, many of Exumer's songs on this album consist of compact and aggressive riffs (but in a more speed-oriented style) which are repeated. Many of the riffs are rooted in traditional heavy metal but sped up to match the aggression of 80s speed/thrash metal.

This combination of Exodus-like compact repetition and a more Metallica-like use of changes and shifts works incredibly well for Exumer on this release, as the changes often appear to come out of the blue and hit you in the face. Just check out tracks like 'Sorrows of the Judgement' and 'Xiron Dark Star'. This combination is one of the main attractions of this album and, although not at all tech thrash, it should still appeal to those who like thrash metal but want more than just the aggression of black thrash and old school speed metal.

The 80s metal sound has been retained on this album, which means that there is a lot of reverb and that the overall production, while well defined, is not at all polished. The performance is a bit sloppy at times, but that is just part of the charm of any 80s thrash metal release, and the song structures as well as the quite rock-oriented guitar solos do indicate that there was a lot of talent in Exumer back in 1986.

The bonus tracks should appeal primarily to fans of the band and are definitely an interesting inclusion, but the most important part of this reissue remains the original album. Any fan of old school thrash metal who had not yet had the chance to get acquainted with Exumer's thrash metal style, should take advantage of the situation and order a copy of the reissued version of "Possessed By Fire" now.

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