Let’s get this out of the way – Exodus is one of the greatest of the Thrash bands and deserves our utmost respect. BUT, personally speaking, I’ve never been able to dig them as much as some of the other Thrash bands of their era because of what I considered to be poor vocalists OTHER than the legendary (and quite possibly the greatest Thrash vocalist and front man ever) Paul Baloff. As a peachfuzzed little teenage punk I couldn’t get enough of Bonded By Blood, one of the greatest Thrash albums of all time. I then had to wait what seemed like forever (they had difficulties after Baloff was booted) for them to follow it up, and when they did they had a completely different singer that just didn’t meet the standard that Paul Baloff set. Pleasures Of The Flesh sucked! I proceeded to then pay little attention to them because I couldn’t get into Zetro’s screechy vocals. And Rob Dukes just didn’t do it for me either. It’s a bit sad because the music kills, dude’s are Thrash through and through. But this album has completely changed my opinion of Zetro’s vocals.
Time has changed me because Zetro’s vocals now sound incredible to these ears. Still screechy but age seems to have added a slight low end to his voice, subtle but there. But that’s not why it sounds incredible to me now, it’s the all out fury that matches the songs on this album so well. There a vocal and musical cohesion to this album that I felt was missing in most of the work that Dukes did with Exodus. Here there is a singularity that creates a cohesive sound that is a pleasure to listen to. This is a great album. One of the best metal releases of the year.
The beginning of the album starts out with an almost Nine Inch Nails feel before kicking into high gear with Black 13 (shades of Stephen King). It’s a great start to a great album, with a brutal assault that destroys your ears right from track one. It’s followed by one of the best songs on the album, the exercise in audio violence Blood In Blood Out. I love the homage they pay to Paul Baloff! When I first noticed it I screamed “Fuck Yeah!!!!” That killer middle section just makes the whole three minutes and forty-two seconds an exercise in singular brutality that kills. Beautiful. Other highlights include Salt The Wound, Body Harvest, Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage, and Food For The Worms. The album is a consistently good, without highs and lows that can happen on some albums. It starts strong, keeps going strong, and ends strong. And the style and sound as a whole does have an 80’s Thrash era feel to it, but with a nice modern production. The album sounds vibrant, alive, brutal, and overall kickass. It is both modern and retro. It works.
The production is good, well balanced with nothing really taking up too much space and drowning out other instruments. Exodus is not a hard band to produce though, they’ve never been known for musical density, but for in your face brutality, and the production definitely brings that out. It’s clean and doesn’t sound overly compressed. Pretty straight forward and with an almost live feel.
But what stands out most to me on this album, surprisingly enough is Zetro’s vocals. They are fantastic and fit the band so well at this stage in their career. Maybe I fucked up in the beginning and just didn’t give him the chance he deserved, but hey, I was just a stupid teenage punk so at least give me that. He is integral to making this the best album I’ve heard from Exodus in a very long time. This will likely go down as a modern Thrash classic.
Verdict: Does Not Suck! Buy it now!
P.S. I guess I should start using a rating’s number for some of these big name releases. For a Thrash record, this one’s good. Really good. 9/10.
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