Exodus - _Shovel Headed Kill Machine_
(Nuclear Blast, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (
You can almost visualize Gary Holt rubbing his hands together in malevolent glee -- not at the departure of his former comrades-in-arms certainly, but simply at the silver-lined prospect of being able to eventually employ some of those death and black metal influences he so loves on an Exodus record. Of course, that is all hearsay, and it could well be that the significantly heavier and more aggressive _Shovel Headed Kill Machine_ was the direction that Exodus were always going to head in anyway, but one thing is very sure: someone has lit a fire under this band, for not since the glory days of Paul Balloff have the Bay Area's original thrash exports sounded this positively seething.That Exodus' seventh official visit to the recording studio has delivered results that comfortably drizzle down a steady stream of steamy, golden urine on its predecessor is an issue that only barely remains open to debate when "Raze" signals the start of the onslaught. Where _Tempo of the Damned_ was a cliché-ridden effort, bogged down by nostalgia and riddled with some of the worst lyrics since Tankard put pen to paper, _Shovel Headed Kill Machine_ hurtles its protagonists squarely into the 21st century with all the subtlety of a maverick missile. New vocalist Rob Dukes makes you wonder why the band ever chose employ Steve "Zetro" Sousa in the first place, while Paul Bostaph's drum work will undoubtedly reinforce Kerry King's accusations that the former Slayer sticksman never had the physical problems that resulted in his exit from the band. Over it all towers Holt and his new six-stringing sidekick, Heathen's Lee Altus -- tearing into a flurry of riffs and solos that more than once border on sounding completely unhinged.It's these very riffs that give this record its soul, and while it's certainly not been business as usual in Camp Exodus, at its core this is still an Exodus record. It may boast an almost entirely different line-up to the band that recorded _Tempo of the Damned_, but songs like "Deathamphetamine" and "44 Magnum Opus" are classics waiting to happen. Undoubtedly there are a number of purists who will strongly object to Holt even still referring to this line-up as Exodus, but to these ears, this is the band's true comeback record -- and a sterling return to form it is too.
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