Exclaim!'s Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums Best of 2016

3. Exalt
The Shape You Took Before the Ache
(New Damage)
As we crawl towards the end of days, few albums this year seemed more apt than the crushing heaviness (and Rapturous lyrical poetry, provided by Tyler Brand) of Exalt's The Shape You Took Before the Ache.
Exalt's influences (the main ones here being Converge and Deftones) are fully assimilated into a sound that they've made their own. It's heavy and groovy and melodic and raw, without ever feeling contrived. Their on-a-dime transitions are informed by the preceding and following grooves; a connective tissue runs through each song, demonstrating the band's compositional skill.
Pete Grossman and Andy Nelson's production comes as close as possible to capturing Exalt's inimitable live energy here, though tracks like "The Ache" (an acoustic interlude with menacing bass sounds coming through the wall) and "The Shape" (a melodic guitar-and-vocals-only affair) also show consideration for the flow of the album, the headphone or home listening experience — and yet, they don't sacrifice the weight of the rest of the album. In short, The Shape You Took Before the Ache is balanced and still heavy.
Peter Ellman