Exodus - Blood in Blood Out (2014)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Over the past few years, I’ve really grown into the thrash metal scene, and grabbed onto several records by the American “Big Four” and the “Teutonic Three”, as well as honorable mentions like New Jersey legends Overkill, the more progressive Quebecois from Voivod, and even obscure bands like the Japanese Sex Machineguns. Exodus is not only one of the latest bands I’ve come to in the genre, but overall, one of those few thrash metal bands I can’t seem to get into despite some fans insisting that Bonded By Blood is one of (if not the best) thrash metal releases ever, and that this band should be considered as one of the “Big Four” instead of Anthrax.
From my point of view, Exodus features exchangeable fast and “brutal” riffs, inconsistent bass guitar work (which has some shining moments while being completely inaudible in other tracks) and technically sound drumming. All of these elements sound close to early Overkill and maybe Kreator, but without reaching the quality level of these two bands. The worst thing about this new record is the vocals, however. It sounds like an odd mixture of an angry Donald Duck and Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, but Steve “Zetro” Souza’s bickered and monotonous barking has no recognition value whatsoever for me.
New record Blood In Blood Out starts with an overlong and plodding intro before evolving into a completely exchangeable ten-minute long thrash metal song with a very average rhythm section, riffs that were worn out two decades ago, monotonous lead vocals supported by occasional gang shouts, and a guest musician that nobody has ever heard of and who feels like he wasn’t even there at all. Oh, wait, it’s not a ten-minute long track, these are actually two songs! They sound so alike and unspectacular that I honestly didn’t realize on first listen that they were actually separate tracks. This is the recurring theme of Blood In Blood Out, and it doesn’t get any better.
“Salt The Wounds” got some attention prior to the release of this album because it features a guest appearance from Metallica guitarist and ex-Exodus member Kirk Hammett. This was a clever strategy to push the release a little bit, as the last few Exodus albums didn’t sell very well and got rather underwhelming reviews. It’s no surprise then that this song can’t fulfill its expectations and is even amongst the weakest tracks here. The tinny drum sound and boring riffs that don’t suit the vocal performance at all are a big letdown. Hammet’s predictable wah-wah-solo makes me wonder if he can still play anything without using that pedal over and over again. The lyrics feel like a laughable Cannibal Corpse rip-off and don’t make things any better. Instead of being one of the few highlights, this song completely backfires.
“Body Harvest” has a simple but energizing chorus and a brutal lead riff that shakes things up, but instead of delivering three minutes of energizing punk-driven thrash metal, Exodus stretches the song to six and a half minutes and includes a completely unspectacular instrumental section that ruins an otherwise good song. It seems to be a laughable current trend for grown-old thrash metal bands to stretch their songs to unbearable lengths without any reason. One can find several similar examples of this on Blood In Blood Out.
Exodus invited a third guest singer in the form of Testament’s Chuck Billy in an attempt to get even more recognition. Testament is surely more interesting than Exodus, but the vocals don’t differ enough to build up an interesting contrast to the main singer on this unimpressive seven-minute long piece of boredom. By the way, another song about “BTK” is far from being original. Please listen to Church Of Misery’s atmospheric and gripping instrumental song of the same name instead.
Is there actually any bearable track on this shiny new frisbee? Actually, yes. “My Last Nerve” has a few interesting guitar melodies leading into a chorus that differs from all the others. This song manages to develop a certain atmosphere and is technically stunning as well. There is a short break dominated by vivid use of the bass guitar, which is a welcome change of style where Jack Gibson can finally show off his talent.
One good song out of eleven or twelve is definitely not enough. Exodus has released not only another weak record, but one of the most uninspired albums of the genre that I have ever listened to. It was a true pain to sit through the entire record multiple times. Do yourself a favor and ignore the clever marketing strategy built around Kirk Hammett and Chuck Billy’s guest appearances. Let Exodus be that overlooked underground band that only a few grown-old genre maniacs appreciate for nostalgic reasons. There are far better American thrash metal bands around, old and new both, that are worthier of your attention. There is only one person I can think of who might be happy about this release: Timo Tolkki. Angels Of The Apocalypse is officially not the worst record of the year. Congratulations!
0.75 // 5