The weak guitar sound fights its way through white noise for the first minute and a half of “Black 13”, but once it breaks out… the magic begins. I later read that the intro was created by Dan the Automator for Exodus and am glad they blasted through to give me the riffs I was yearning for, along with Zetro’s acid fuelled vocal delivery.
Yes, I’d seen that Steve “Zetro” Souza was back in the band and while I personally had no problem with Rob Dukes’s vocals, I was listening to ‘Let There Be Blood’ in the car a week or so ago and can safely admit I far prefer Paul Baloff’s originals and then I grew up listening to Zetro, so there’s that added nostalgia to go with his aggression fused vocals.
What I’ve always liked about Exodus is that on every album there’s been a song about the band/fans/scene that just happens to get your heart pounding and head banging and body slamming, title track “Blood In Blood Out” is that song and I’m sure that when it’s played live we shall be moshing like it’s 1985.
“Collateral Damage” is fast and bouncy with a catchy chorus that shall have everyone shouting it back in the way we did with “Corruption”, as they are in a similar vein. The lightning paced lead trade-offs by Gary Holt and Lee Altus don’t miss a note as the guitar riffs under them are kept going effortlessly.
Owing to Gary’s touring with Slayer on the Big Four dates, he renewed his relationship with once ex-Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett and convinced him to make his first appearance for them on record by laying down a solo on “Salt The Wound” which hits more high notes than Zetro does on the final chorus.
“Body Harvest” is the stuff of urban legend and as colourfully depicted. I like the way the backing vocals shout out the title as a reply to the lines of the chorus and Gary and Lee’s double lead harmony which hits a really sweet spot.
While I enjoy a good yarn about serial or signature killers, I tend to leave in the realm of fiction. “BTK” on the other hand was a rather twisted individual and Tom Hunting’s crash cymbals slice through the guitars with an air of foreboding, even if the verse melody is rather catchy and belies the subject matter completely.
The guitar twiddling intro quickly makes way for heavier choppier riffs and a solid drum battery on “Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage” before the venomous vocals are spat out with almost as much scalpel precision as the lead solos that wind around each other before reverting to the main riff.
Probably the slowest track on the album “My Last Nerve” would still have you moshing without a problem, but in comparison the steady drum beat and regular pace drops for the choruses are almost ballad-like for Exodus and make Zetro use far more control on his voice than normal. The leads are both flowing and beautifully honed to an edge that would flay you without much strain.
Gary Holt’s lyrics have always struck a chord for me and “Numb” is no exception it saddens me to admit. As long as something abhorrent isn’t happening to me or the ones I love, then I can get over it and move on. Granted we if we didn’t we’d never survive long, but I guess his point about compassion being lost struck a nerve. As for the song, I love Jack Gibson’s bass fill at the end of every verse and chorus as it rumbles on while the guitars pause.
The Lee Altus song “Honor Killings” has a Heathen hint to it, but Tom Hunting’s distinctive drum patterns combine with Zetro’s vocals to make it Exodus all the way through, as do the leads where Lee and Gary follow each other in succession at high speed.
Speaking of speed, “Food For The Worms” definitely keeps the momentum going as it races along before taking a mid-song breakdown only to kick back into high gear and sweep you along as if it were an avalanche of guitars and drums.
Excellent album, and it’s really great to see that after a couple years of touring with Slayer Gary is still Exodus to the core and able to produce some of the best riffs that exemplify the Bay Area sound to me.
(9/10 Marco Gaminara)