Make no mistake--Exmortus are here to flex nuts. Sporting an impressive blend of thundering melo-death and acrobatic power metal, the Cali quartet have created the kind of album you want to hear pouring from the windows of a van with a Viking fighting a demon in space painted on it. The resulting guitar wheedlies and galloping drums fuse well with frontman Conan's black-metal-ish grunts and snarls. Cuts like "Ancient Violence" and "Metal is King" channel all the best parts of Manowar, while the band's cover of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is as crushing as it is fun to blast. CHRIS KROVATIN
Check out "Slave to the Sword" from Slave to the Sword.