Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Did any sane and healthy living creature on this planet actually expect American Thrash Metal masters Exodus would not deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal with their brand new album, the motherfuckin’ awesome Blood In, Blood Out? Think about it, the band has the one and only vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza returning since their 2004’s masterpiece Tempo of the Damned, they’ve been providing us the cream of Thrash Metal for years in a row with boisterous albums such as Shovel Headed Kill Machine and Exhibit B: The Human Condition, and they have the guitar genius Gary Holt more inspired than ever with absolutely no mercy of our necks and souls. Even the sick album art is pure old school, not to say totally badass. As the band itself states in this album, “this is a fucking dynasty of thrash notoriety”.
Although Blood In, Blood Out features some very special guest musicians, it’s the “Pink Floyd of Thrash Metal” themselves (as many of their songs go way beyond the 4 or 5-minute barrier most Thrash Metal bands are used to) who truly conduct the whole album almost flawlessly, with highlights to the wicked return of Zetro, of course. I mean, Rob Dukes is a great guy, an excellent frontman and his hardcore voice was perfect for the type of music Exodus generated in the past few years (I’m not even going to say how much I love all of the Exodus albums with Rob on vocals), but Zetro kind of brings back that 80’s thrashier attitude all fans learned to love, and that became the band’s trademark.
Gary, Zetro, Lee, Jack and Tom might have thought “why not kicking things off with the past and present of Exodus in the same song?” That’s exactly what you’ll hear in the excellent Black 13, where their first guest musician, American hip hop producer Dan the Automator, is responsible for an industrial sounding intro before all hell breaks loose with those insane Thrash Metal riffs only Exodus can generate. It follows a similar pattern as their latest albums, mixing the thrashier musicality of Tempo of the Damned with the melody and violence of Exhibit B: The Human Condition. Pay attention to Zetro’s voice and to the outstanding bass lines by Jack Gibson, those are truly amazing elements in this badass track, followed by another powerful tune, the title-track Blood In, Blood Out: I heard people complaining about its “silly” lyrics, that they’re too basic comapred to precious gems such as “Scar Spangled Banner” and “Blacklist”, but it’s lines such as “If you have the pedigree, welcome to the family” and “Tonight we’re gonna rage and make Paul Baloff proud” what make it so delightful. Can you imagine the humongous circle pits this song will generate when played live? Besides, the whole band is kicking ass here, in special Gary Holt and Lee Altus with their amazing guitar solos.
Collateral Damage once again focus on an old school sonority, and will probably cause some awesome collateral or brain damage to the fans so fuckin’ heavy it is. I simply love the backing vocals and how Tom Hunting accelerates the whole damn thing with his pounding drums. The next track, Salt The Wound, sounds a lot like some tracks from Tempo of the Damned, especially its riffs and acid lyrics (“Full of puss / You’re a Judas and a troll / Lance the boil rooted deep within”). In addition, this song has their second guest musician, albeit it’s just a guitar solo by Metallica’s own Kirk Hammett. At least he didn’t have enough time to screw up everything with his horrible technique.
The massacre goes on with the fast Body Harvest, with Zetro’s desperate screams during its chorus adding even more violence to it, plus some great guitar solos after four minutes; and BTK, with their last guest, Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) on vocals doing only some screams and deep growls (and nothing else). This song is based on the story of Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK killer, whose infamous signature means “Bind, Torture, Kill”. Well, I still prefer their song about serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, entitled “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles”, from Exhibit B: The Human Condition.
Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage is direct old school Thrash Metal, perfect for live performances, while My Last Nerve is an excellent example of how even when they slow down and get more melodic, their music is still so violent and awesome it’s impossible to stand still. This is how slow riffs and harsh vocals should be blended together to make an amazing headbanging tune, turning it into one of the top moments of the album. Exodus get back to old school destruction in Numb, a true lesson to all new bands on how Thrash Metal should be played, with a flawless and complex instrumental and with highlights to the job done by Tom Hunting, who seems pretty inspired during the entire album.
The last part of Blood In, Blood Out begins with Honor Killings, another awesome combination of harsh vocals, great backing vocals, insane riffs, and violent lyrics. The deep heavy sound of the bass lines in this song is really outstanding, thanks to a brilliant work by Jack Gibson. Then we have Food For The Worms, with another great vocal performance by Zetro augmented by the song’s dark lyrics, and it’s always impressive how these guys keep on thrashing nonstop like metal machines. And last but not least, Exodus offer us an interesting cover version for British Heavy Metal band Angel Witch’s Angel Of Death, from their 1980 debut album Angel Witch.
I guess I don’t need to mention once again that Gary Holt is an underrated beast, a billion times more awesome than most worshiped metal guitarists I know. The guy is playing with Exodus AND Slayer at the same time, crafting great music like everything in Blood In, Blood Out, and he NEVER has a bad or uninspired day on the guitar. That says it all. Anyway, you can purchase the album in several different webshops and physical stores, and if you live in a blessed city in the US you can check Exodus live touring with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies, which is beyond spectacular for any Thrash Metal fan in the world. And if you haven’t welcomed the “Hatriot” back to the Exodus family yet (I had the pleasure to see him back live during their concert at Heavy Montréal 2014) and/or would also like to thank him for contributing to such an amazing album like Blood In, Blood Out, this tour will be a very good opportunity to do so.
Best moments of the album: Black 13, Blood In, Blood Out, My Last Nerve and Honor Killings.
Worst moments of the album: BTK.
Released in 2014 Nuclear Blast
1. Black 13 (feat. Dan the Automator) 6:21
2. Blood In, Blood Out 3:42
3. Collateral Damage 5:28
4. Salt The Wound (feat. Kirk Hammett) 4:25
5. Body Harvest 6:29
6. BTK (feat. Chuck Billy) 6:56
7. Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage 4:30
8. My Last Nerve 6:11
9. Numb 6:14
10. Honor Killings 5:43
11. Food For The Worms 6:23
Limited Edition bonus track
12. Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover) 4:39
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Lee Altus – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums, percussion
Dan the Automator – industrial intro on “Black 13″
Kirk Hammett – guitar solo on “Salt the Wound”
Chuck Billy – additional vocals on “BTK”