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Exodus Tempo of the Damned

By Krista G., Contributor
Tuesday, March 23, 2004 @ 12:52 AM

(Nuclear Blast)

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[We posted this one so early, we thought we'd better put it back up on it's release date so you could all comment on it after you've had a chance to get your grubby paws on it... Bonus track comments have also been added... - Ed.]

I often view metal -- specifically good thrash -- like a heavyweight boxer. They cuss you out in very creative ways, get you cornered in the ring, beat the shit out of your whimpering ass, and for the final blow to your broken body, a bite that takes your ear off. The TKO on this CD is the first three songs, which leave you thinking it can’t better. It does -- easily renewing the faith that thrash is not dead. It’s alive, and with Exodus’s history of unfortunate set backs, have come back with confident intensity. This is truly one of the finest moments for Exodus.

The band is somehow renewed, revitalized and solidified. A fire is raging under these guys’ collective asses -- but, remember that the underdog is a sadistic and underestimated force. Perfectly representing that is the guitar work. It’s so nasty and unrelenting. Leads and solos are absolutely insane. Belligerent precision that’s constantly morphing, flexing it’s muscles, with the underlying rhythm work being chunky -- propelling it head long. On the whole, the guitar work is vicious, punishing, groove orientated, exceptional, mental. Speaking of mental -- Steve Souza has never sounded so possessed in his life. There is no voice like this mans. I find him to be especially evil, venomous, spiteful -- while stretching his chords like never before. Some deeper lows, like a near death growl accentuating certain lines -- along with his patented spit and piss on other words (“cruci-fucked”). The finest vocal work ever by Souza. Lyrically, it’s outrageous, opinionated, pissed off, and is it ever profane! War, religion, pricks, moving ahead, wedded “bliss” -- you name it, it’s here. Bass is finally audible! I mean it’s distinctly heard, rumbling along with some tricky patterns -- a welcome addition to the songs. Production is clear (Andy Sneap -- need I say more?) The drums are split 50/50 here -- pretty sporadic. Bare bones bashing (it does the job, though) then the other songs that are totally inspired with psycho fills, and complicated patterns. The one weaker spot on the recording -- which is minor in the scheme of the music. This tends to be fast paced, but it’s slowed down a notch or two to make a few mid-paced songs. Still, it’s based in the realm of anything goes, free-for-all thrash. You’ll be surprised at some of these songs when you do purchase this CD.

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Notes on the songs:

1. “Scar Spangled Banner” -- Psycho riffing and bashing drums open this nasty beast off. Bass lines make a welcome bridge. Evil vocals, with lyrics you can only imagine. Potty mouthed, ferocious metal -- just the way I like it. “I’m no patriot, just a hatriot.”

2. “War Is My Shepherd” -- This song is rapid machine gun fire, with the near-death style accentuation on the lines “war is my shepherd.” I had no idea that Souza could strip his vocals like that. Speed metal style solo, extremely fast paced.

3. “Blacklist” -- Utter perfection. Double solo’s, hate filled lyrics, near dynamic shifts, intense break downs, and some fine whammy bar work that really hurts. In a good way. Damn, this song is more me than I am. Superb, anthem lyrics.

4. “Shroud Of Urine” -- Ah, the infamous Shroud of Urine. It’s filled with excellent dual guitar work, that may surprise you with it’s occasional classical influence. Highly quotable, and highly venomous. If this doesn’t do something for you, nothing will. And yes, this is where the new word “crucifucked” comes from.

5. “Forward March” -- Mesmerizing song to me. Slow, fast, near spoken hissing, and heavily accentuated deep vocals with the chorus. Guitar work is seductive, before the doom tones, and blazing solo’s. Exodus style call to arms.

6. “Culling The Herd” -- Heavy song. Deeper vocals, with guitar tones that bend and twist into a stoner vibe... ‘til you hit another fiery solo that slaps you upside the head, forcing you to remember this thrash. Again, highly quotable lyrics.

7. “Sealed With A Fist” – Aww, the joys of wedded “bliss.” Uh huh. An excellent reworked Exodus song. Added venom, punch, power, ferocity. Catchy, heavy, and more memorable now.

8. “Throwing Down” -- I swear this has a stoner metal vibe to it. Slower paced, and I’ve never heard this band sound like this before. Searing solo, deep vocals, while the drums loosely control/propel this song. Appreciated on it’s own merits. Similar vibe to this one is “Culling the Herd.” Reworked song from Gary Holt’s ‘Wardance’ project.

9. “Impaler” -- Reworked classic. Better than the original? Yes -- I said they were rejuvenated. Must be all the Geritol. Just kidding, I use Geritol, too. At the two minute mark this is just a beast, beautiful solo’s, excellent crazed rendition.

10. “Tempo Of The Damned” -- The guitar work is all over (goose bump raising), bass lines popping out everywhere, Souza is spitting and screaming. Excellent finale for an outstanding disc.

There are two other songs that didn’t make it to this particular release. The cover tune “Dirty Deeds” was on the European, limited edition EP, War is My Shepherd. And another song, “Crime,” which is being held back for possible use on a next release. You’re looking at ten songs, but this is 55 + minutes of pure destructive passion and excellent musicianship. Much hype surrounds this band right now -- I truly believe that it’s justly deserved.

Bonus Track:

"Dirty Deeds" -- Another fine AC/DC cover. And I can never get enough of the covers from this band. It's a faithful rendition, but far more sinister, heavier with more grooves. In fact so much, that the weight of the guitars tones simply loom over your head, hanging loosely with feedback. The soloing escalates to insane, speed metal proportions. The drums are punched up, with attempt complexity. The bass, ah yes, so audible, and I'm pleased about that. Gang style vocs for the chorus. Souza sings. Yes, I fucking said that. And he spits, snarls, growls, and does that croaky voice work that makes you think the dead have been raised. Surpasses original, and this die-hard Bon Scott fan can say that with confidence.

Another song, “Crime of the Century” [Century Media that is] is being held back for possible use on a next release. You’re looking at 11 songs, but this is 65 + minutes of pure destructive passion and excellent musicianship. Much hype surrounds this band right now -- I truly believe that it’s justly deserved. Who says that you can't go back, and make possibly the best comeback recording of the year.

Exodus is back with a vengeance -- Tempo of the Damned may end up being one of the top rated recordings for 2004. Rightly so -- it’s that tight. Released on February 2nd in Europe, on the two-year anniversary date of Paul Baloff’s passing. I think this is partly his tribute -- pure speculation on my part -- but I can feel the intensity ooze from every track. The rest of us get it on March 9th. Special thanks to Deadly Walter for providing me the content early.

* * * * ½

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