Review by Daniel for E-X-E - Stricken by Might (1987) Review by Daniel for E-X-E - Stricken by Might (1987)

Daniel Daniel / March 03, 2020 / 0

New York thrash metal outfit E-X-E first came to my attention in the early 90’s, once again though the tape trading scene that shaped such a large portion of my musical tastes & opinions for the coming decades. The band’s 1987 debut album “Stricken By Might” had appeared on one side of a badly recorded 90 minute cassette I received in my mail box from some foreign location of which I no longer remember but I do recall getting quite a bit of enjoyment out of it without it ever threatening to command regular revisits. I don’t believe I ever checked out E-X-E’s 1990 sophomore album “Sicker Than I Thought!” but from what I can tell it was somewhat of a let-down in comparison so that may not be such a bad thing.

“Stricken By Might” is a long way from a well-polished, high-budget & over-produced affair. On the contrary, it’s fuelled purely on metal-as-fuck attitude & the sort of old-school mentality that made the mid-to-late 80’s such a special time to be discovering extreme metal. This is real music made by real people & in many ways it epitomizes what metal initially aspired to be. E-X-E sadly weren’t quite skilled enough to pull off the full package as yet but even if they had been they may not have wanted to anyway as the raw & dirty production & naïve yet energetic performances really help to create an attractive old-school atmosphere of the type that many bands are still trying to replicate today. Stylistically, E-X-E have most of the 80’s covered too by delivering an each way bet into everything that was great about the decade in metal. Thrash metal , speed metal & heavy metal all receive the treatment & there’s even a bit of crossover thrash on opening number “Slaughter Disorder”. In fact, some of the tracks see the band switching genres regularly between the various parts of the song & it wasn’t all that easy to whack a genre tag on the band.

Front man Joseph Palma isn’t the most talented vocalist you’ll ever encounter. He can actually be quite pitchy at times but there’s an attractive authenticity in his mid & higher register delivery that makes details like that seem fairly inconsequential. Drummer Charles Lopez opts for a very simple approach that at times sees him sounding a bit repetitive. There’s definitely a Teutonic edge to his style but unfortunately his kit isn’t terribly well balanced in the mix with his snare drum being noticeably louder than the rest of his kit. It’s interesting that many of E-X-E’s riffs don’t employ the trademark thrash metal palm-muting whilst still being thrashy in nature & this characteristic very much brings to mind Canadian speed metal originators Exciter who are actually a pretty good reference point for E-X-E’s dirty & energetic sound. But it’s the hyperactive guitar solos of Adam “Muammar” Marigliano & Rui “Evil” Tavora that highlight the savage electricity of E-X-E best with Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman & Kerry King being obvious influences. These two may not be half as talented from a technical point of view but they certainly know how to thrash out & their performances are one of the highlights of the album in my opinion.

Overall, “Stricken By Might” is a very consistent record with just the one failure in the uneventful “Warchild”. In saying that though, it’s a little unusual that the two clear highlight tracks are left so late in the game. Anthrax-influenced thrasher “Fatally Wounded” is my pick of the bunch & you’ll rarely find a better example of raw 80’s thrash than that. Closing number “Crib Death” is also outstanding & sees E-X-E muscling up substantially with a sound that verges pretty closely to death metal & sees the band finishing on a real high. “Stricken By Might” would have been a truly mind-blowing album if it had of contained a full tracklisting at the quality of those two tracks. As it is though there’s still a fair bit to keep me entertained & I’d suggest that “Stricken By might” is yet another example of how the underground thrash scene was coming of age in the wake of 1986’s string of career highlights from the bigger name acts. It’s definitely worth a few spins.

For fans of: Exciter, Hallows Eve, early Slayer.

Comments (0)