Exodus - _Tempo of the Damned_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
Drug addiction and the harsh reality of sobering up, and the tragic and untimely loss of a former band member are all just some of the harrowing experiences that the Bay Area collective known as Exodus have had to endure along the road to bringing us _Tempo of the Damned_, the first proper studio output the band have offered up in nearly eight years. Not surprisingly, the level of expectation that has been generated around this album is staggering, and in many ways almost unfairly optimistic, given that these guys have been out of the game for so long. And so it is that _TotD_ is no _Bonded by Blood_, nor indeed is it _Fabulous Disaster_. However at the same time, it is also a step or two above the one-legged dud that was _Impact Is Immanent_. Under the guidance of producer Andy Sneap, Exodus have opted to play it safe -- relying on those traits that once upon a time saw them bask in the same adulation as Slayer and Anthrax. _TotD_ therefore is chock full of catchy hooks, splendidly nasty riffs and neck-snapping mid-tempo chugging. Occasionally though, the band seems almost nervous; trying to recapture past glories by rehashing ideas from their earlier work. "Blacklist", for instance, bears more than a mild waft of "Toxic Waltz". Equally unfortunate is the band's lingering penchant for coming up with almost cringingly puerile lyrics -- "Shroud of Urine" being an excellent example. Yet at the end of the album's fifty odd minute running time, one is still left satisfied, if only for the unabashed and unrepentant way in which Exodus have always, and will hopefully continue to present their brand of old-school thrash.[Matthias: "A new Exodus comes out and all of a sudden 50% of the individuals that populate the metal-related message boards are freaking out and claiming that this is a thrash metal masterpiece. Yeah, Metallica have gone down the drain long ago, Overkill should bore even those who have stood in union for over a decade these days, and Charlene Bitchante and the other clowns in Anthrax are in tears because their latest "product" doesn't sell -- of course it doesn't: because it's crap, it's the lack of promotion. Especially in a situation where mallcore is finally on the decline, many people into real metal are waiting for the resurrection of a thrash metal messiah -- but Holt/Hunolt's last attempt to postpone a second career at Burger King surely can't fill those shoes. _Tempo of the Damned_ (clever choice of an album title -- for a moment I was foolish enough to believe this was going to be fast) has a few good tracks and the rest is unfortunately nothing but a bunch of fillers. The two godawful side-project songs are certainly the low point of the album, and if someone needs an example of truly atrocious late '90s sub Machine Head / Pantera crap metal, then just give "Throwing Down" a spin. Zetro sounds much more aggressive and better than ever, and it's certainly not his fault that _TotD_ is a disappointment, but I can vividly imagine Baloff smashing Gary Holt's skull when asked to sing over such crap. The Andy Sneap production is almost as annoying: squeaky clean, without bass, without anything that'd rip and shred like a thrash metal album should. "Scar Spangled Banner" is good, "Tempo of the Damned" is also good and reminds me of "The Last Act of Defiance"; the rest is mediocre to plain boring, and the metal kiddies who claim this is good thrash metal should get shut down hard, fast and with maximum violence like a bunch of fucking posers at an Exodus gig in '84/'85. This band as an entity that is able to create new and exciting thrash metal ceased to exist after _Impact Is Imminent_, and nostalgia and wishful thinking can't turn a turd into gold."]
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