History & BiographyExoto was formed in 1989 and released a live demo called Waiting For The Maggots in the same year. The year after came the And Then You Die demo and was chosen as the demo of the month in Aardschock magazine. This demo reportedly shipped 1,600 copies. The Fifth Season demo followed the year after and again reached the top of the heap in Aardschock. Wim Baelus, a writer for the magazine, took two of the songs and released a 7" on his label Midian Creations called Ashes. In this period Exoto toured with the likes of Morbid Angel, Dead Head, Grave and Annihilator. 1993's Final Discorporation was a new tape featuring live songs and the And Then You Die material. The band signed to the Belgian Tessa Records and released Carnival Of Souls. The band lost drummer Didier Mertens in a car accident and released the tape Tribute To Didier in his honour. The band's second album was licensed from Tessa by Black Mark and released on both sides of the Atlantic. The band split up in 1996 only to return for a year in 2013. Then it reformed again with four new members in 2016, but without Victor Van Der Steen. Meynen was in a short-lived project called Bloodless at this juncture. Vic put together the early demos as And Then You Die/The Fifth Season compilation in 2016. Morbid Tpa joined on drums in 2017. Chris Meynen was collecting money for his dying friend, Brett Hoffmann of Malevolent Creation, but the man died before funds could be raised. Absolution In Death was the name of an EP issued in 2019. Guitarist Raymond Daniëls joined in 2020.
Boonen had gone on to do a covers' band called Sulfeet, which paid tribute to S.O.D., but returned for a final demo called The Final Festering in 2023. The band's last concert (again) was slated for December 2023 and was to be opened by Echoes Of A Dying World featuring two former members, guitarists Wim Melis and Kevin Vandervoort. Also on the bill were Dead Head and Verwilderd.
EXOTO - THE FINAL FESTERING
The Final Festering is an odd name for the demo-LP. The band has announced this to be its last release leading to its farewell so the ‘final’ part is right. When I think of ‘fester’ though I think of something that is going to stick around. Exoto has made its departure official, claiming the singer suffered injuries in 2019 and has health problems. Perhaps the band hopes its music, or songs on this release, will have longevity. Perhaps the band members, or the singer, are ignorant. He is photographed with a T-shirt that reads “Fuck Woke.” Another Facebook junkie probably who thinks social justice is a joke and is trying to fit in with his chums. He probably hates vaccines too because they are woke. The singer is the leader of the group and until recently the only original member in the line-up, although guitar player Flip made his way back to record here just in time for the recurring farwell.
The group’s membership is somewhat shrouded in mists of time given the band dissolving, being stood up, dissolving, coming back with new members and lather, rinse, repeat though. So, what about the music of the tattoo models?
The first song is called Crusade Of Deceit and wastes no time to proclaim its allegiance to death metal and thrashcore. The band has been death metal and been constant, but still, for some reason, it is a surprise that they lash so hard, Yet, here it is in 2023. They are either devoted or the break-ups have helped them. The first song begins with a short sound effect of battle before diving headlong into a rough speed course that stops for nothing. Haunted Head, which is a horrific title that goes with the horrific cover art, is less straightforward and contains an impressive bridge. Postnatal Abortion, whatever that means though it sure is a cool title, has a touch of Seance's Saltrubbed Eyes. The ending is off as if the band is tired, begins to crawl and struggles to the finish line. Intertwined Souls is for Exoto fans and Malevolent Creation fans. The vocals are hoarse, but not as dry as on Mountain Of Pain, where Chris' vocals rasp and sound as if they are coming from the beyond. This song has a cool tempo change, haunting backing vocals and, what was that? Did I just hear a ten-second solo? The gang accelerates to impressive speeds making this the best number on this LP. My Frozen Saviour has a heavy military chug. Zombie Zero has a remarkable riff that Sinister fans would like. Did not expect a title track on this because the name is picked to announce the band’s departure, but there is a song called The Final Festering. Of course, it is placed at the end and even brings in a melody alternating with heavy riffs. Could be considered a weak song. It ends the way the album started with the sound of battle and mayhem as if Exoto is leaving destruction behind.
Aside from the aforementioned short solo and a lead at the very beginning of the LP this is no-frills and as technical as Nickelback is listenable. The band is dense though and most of the music is a machine gun on fire. This rough stuff is the type of music which skews the melody and preference of most metal bands these days. It could explain why the band did not find a label. They looked for one and proceeded to self-release, which given today's labels is the same thing really anyway! Possibly labels did not wish to invest in a band that has announced its farewell.
Unbowed after all these years, Exoto’s speed would have been even more impressive if they had not cut away for a number of years and used it as a breather. Still, having formed in 1990 and being this extreme to this day deserves a compliment or two. - Anna Tergel