October 23, 2014 Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (Album Review)
During the 1980’s the Bay area of Northern California produced countless Thrash Metal bands that will forever be looked at as pioneers of the scene. One of those names which should automatically come to mind in the conversation is Richmond, CA’s Exodus. Formed nearly 35 years ago the line-up has seen some big names pass through their ranks including none other than Metallica’s own Kirk Hammett. Surviving a list of vocalist changes, a few hiatuses, and the sands of time Exodus is stronger than ever in 2014. Welcoming back vocalist Steve Souza for the first time in a decade, the old guard of drummer Tom Hunting and guitarist Gary Holt lives on with new members in bassist Jack Gibson and guitarist Lee Altus. While Souza is often regarded as one of the most popular vocalists for Exodus, the anticipation went through the roof when the announcement came that they would be releasing their first album in four years titled Blood In, Blood Out on October 14th. Marking their milestone tenth studio album, Blood In, Blood Out, Exodus bring back long-time producer Andy Sneap but also take on some production duties themselves as well.
Starting things off with a stiff, pounding track is “Black 13” before dropping into a fast, driven melody accompanied by Souza’s classic voice. Wild and hypnotic, it instantly grabs the listener’s attention and holds it, preparing them for the title track to follow with a pulsing, punctual rhythm taking over with loud, shouting vocals and dark, startling guitar riffs. Complex and heavy, it showcases the talents of Holt and Altus as well as Gibson’s bass playing vibrantly. A sharp guitar solo introduces “Collateral Damage”, a vivid and opulent song. The roaring beats, vocals, and riffs encompass the cornerstone of Exodus’s style. Potent and reminiscent of their older material, this song holds a thread of nostalgia for long time Exodus fans.
Deeper in, “Salt the Wound” spins violently in a disorienting array of layered melodies. Harsh but easy on the ears, it keeps the attention of the listener with another unique, powerful track combining a throaty guitar solo at the bridge, as well as a guest appearance by Exodus alumni Kirk Hammett. The song “Body Harvest” screams intensity, and puts out a warm, full and sinewy sound. Sharp with a quick, steady beat it contains a loud, growling refrain. Deep, thick guitar riffs compliment the insane tempo of Hunting’s drums and the low, throbbing bass. Short for ‘Born to kill,’ “BTK” is a violent, killer song with a reverberating, intoxicating melody as well as brilliant, cryptic lyrics that speak volumes. Hypnotic and grueling, the addition of Testament’s Chuck Billy on the track really makes it stands out from the rest with a unique twist on Exodus’ already impeccable style. Keeping in the vein of nostalgia, “Wrapped in the Arms of Rage” sends the listener back to older albums again. Vivid and aggressive, it gives another sample of where they started and how they have progressed over the years. Moving on, “My Last Nerve” is a spellbinding, compelling composition that begs to be listened to. Satisfying and robust it lingers in the auditory canals long after the song has ended. Nearing the end of this chaotic metal dream, “Numb” is another pulsing, pounding track that emanates endurance and speed. Heavy and harsh, Souza’s voice encircles the track, melding seamlessly into a mind-numbing indulgence. “Honor Killings” is a sinewy, supple song with a passionate fervor and a hunger for darkness and profound lyrics. Deep, emotional vocals growl the refrain and lyrics, setting the stage for the final track “Food For Worms”, which closes the album with a resounding clash of speedy, harsh riffs. It pounds its way through a solemn marching cadence.
Exodus have forever been leaders in American Thrash Metal, paving the way for those who came behind them. Perservering and intent, in recent years they have carved a corner for themselves in the modern day speed metal market as well. Long time Exodus fans new and old will have a hard time finding fault with Blood In, Blood Out as the band storms their way through another challenge. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.