Painted In Exile

The Ordeal

review published: 5/2/2017


Painted In Exile are a progressive metalcore band hailing from Long Island, NY. The Ordeal, the group's debut full-length is a display of their far-reaching influences and abilities, ultimately combining metal, prog-rock, and jazz into a unique sound.

The most interesting thing about The Ordeal is how theatrical sounding it is – the record, when taken as a whole, comes off as some sort of metal opera as it snakes its way through a varied structure. Centered around two diverse and lengthy pieces, "Jupiter" and "DM," The Ordeal has a feeling of conflict, a push and pull not unlike the contrasting sounds the band produces.

The album is bookended by Painted In Exile's least dramatic songs, "House Of Cards" and "These People" respectively. While the band packs as much into their compositions as possible, these songs just scratch the surface of the group's modus operandi. Mixing the technical metal of Between The Buried And Me with the progressive techniques of Devin Townsend Project, Painted In Exile move through the complex structures and rhythms of these tracks with superb musicianship and attention to detail. "House Of Cards" bounces between chaotic grooves and cleanly sung refrains through the use of varying transitions while "These People" is a more straightforward track, relying upon traditional metalcore stylings.

The Ordeal really begins to take form with "Welcome (One And Come All)," a deranged circus lullabye that leads into "The Bazaar," a track which builds upon the foundation laid with "House Of Cards." Painted In Exile again open the song with an extremely heavy intro section before moving into a melodic chorus. From there, though, the track runs the gamut of an early Dillinger Escape Plan sounding disjointed clean guitar interlude, Steve Vai-esque guitar solo and rolling piano over death metal riffs. The song fades away via a mellow synth, carrying the listener into the meat of the album.

As mentioned earlier, The Ordeal seems to revolve around its two central tracks, "Jupiter" and "DM" – both well-crafted songs displaying the progressive songwriting skills of Painted In Exile. "Jupiter" begins with an arpeggiated acoustic guitar, gradually buttressed by the rest of the band. The track continues to build, smoothly developing before breaking into quiet, piano-led segues and back. The track finally reaches its climax as sweeping guitar lines and double kick draw it to its heavy conclusion.

"DM" is equally as compelling, but for different reasons. The front half of the track finds Painted In Exile jumping through odd-metered metalcore riffs and melodic choruses prior to cutting out entirely midway through. At this point the song takes a complete turn as "DM" shifts into experimental jazz mode, with sharp piano strikes and noodling guitar. As the piano begins to rise, the band re-enters full steam and brings the song back to the chaos of its opening half.

The Ordeal is not without its faults, though. Too many instrumental interludes interrupt the flow of the songs, most of which are already loaded with their own interludes. "Transition Wow," an out of place reversed noise track, and "My Keeper," an uninteresting droning organ thrown on at the end of the record, are needless and disrupt more than complement. "Like A Memory" showcases a classical influence with its endearing string arrangement but is bafflingly placed after the cringeworthy rap-metal of "Not For Nothin'." One can't help but wonder if these were thrown on to fill time or to build upon the diversity of the record – entirely unnecessary either way. These missteps, however, make up a small portion of the album's run-time and do little to taint the impressive totality of The Ordeal.

Bottom Line: Painted In Exile have put together an impressive debut with The Ordeal. While there a few head scratching moments, the positives far outweigh them.

Track Listing: 01. House Of Cards 02. Welcome (One And Come All) 03. The Bazaar 04. Jupiter 05. Transition Wow 06. DM 07. Not For Nothin' 08. Like A Memory 09. These People 10. My Keeper