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Exodus started their long awaited comeback with an album whose production did not flirt with the sound of the eighties. In terms of its mix, "Tempo of the Damned" emerged as a full-length that stood with both feet in the present. The vehemence of the technical implementation worked as an indicator for the musical direction. Forget the lukewarm / shitty / experimental / commercial / overlong / boring (please make your selection) "Force of Habit" that caused the implosion of the band in 1992. "Tempo of the Damned", recorded with four fifths of the "Fabulous Disaster" line-up, brought back the ugly ferocity of Exodus and played its part on the threshold of the new age of thrash.
Admittedly, after the long period of silence, it boggled the mind that Exodus had not been able to design a full-length without fillers. Gary Holt and his crew were clever enough to kick off the output with some effective and varying pieces, but we were clever as well and therefore we realized that they had put a small number of mediocre pieces in the middle of the album. Especially the overlong "Culling the Herd" and the primitively stomping "Sealed with a Fist" didn't offer amazing twists and turns or anything else that could be praised for its extraordinary charm. Anyway, it is surely small-minded to take offence at (more or less) minor details and I don't want to cry just because of two predictable pieces. The principal thing was that Exodus were back and they presented a couple of formidable pieces. Except for US-American patriots, everybody received the provocative opener "Scar Spangled Banner" with open arms and open ears, because its introducing riff demonstrated the regained power of Exodus immediately. However, the best was yet to come.
Holt had penned some really exciting songs that shined with brilliant choruses, compelling riffs and a lot of pressure. "War Is My Shepherd" killed with vile leads and its concise bridge resulted in a heavyweight chorus. The viciously creeping "Blacklist" offered a vindictive chorus and the drilling guitars showed no signs of mercy as well. By the way, inter alia this song revealed the skill of Zetro to implement opportune vocal lines. Moreover, his performance was a forming element of the album. Seemingly filled to the brim with bad feelings, he covered the whole range: from hate to aggression, from scorn to desperation. The last element characterised my personal highlight, the titanic "Forward March". In alignment with the lyrical content, Zetro's screaming showed desperate and combative elements. Apart from his contribution, each single part of the multilayered track was enthrallingly designed and the chorus with its gloomy guitars was the cherry on the cake.
The band also served a special titbit: "Impaler", a previously unreleased song of their early days. Its sawing riff at the beginning whispered "Do you remember Bonded by Blood?" and the entire title, co-written by Kirk Hammett and Tom Hunting, emitted a touch of the pioneering years of thrash metal. Although the following title track lived up to its name, it was far away from creating a comparable degree of magic. Nevertheless, a good track and a strong ending of the album, if we ignore the banally performed AC/DC cover version. Don't mess with the Young brothers, that's all I can say in this context. (And the same applies for "Overdose" which was released on "Fabulous Disaster, because it just shows that Bon Scott's charisma remains untouched.) Anyway, despite its minor weaknesses, "Tempo of the Damned" sent important signals and marked a milestone for the revival of thrash metal.
12 long years had passed since Exodus’ last studio record Force Of Habit when this one was released. The band wasn’t very active during the impossible 90’s, although the surprising live album they made with Paul Baloff in 1997 Another Lesson In Violence proved these guys didn’t lose their touch at all. Once the 21st century arrived, the bad times for thrash seemed to come to an end and nostalgia among the fans for the subgenre heroes increased, so time was right for a back to basics return that would bring the spirit of the old school days back and satisfy the romantic thrashers who waited for more than a decade for a solid work. With the classic late 80’s line-up (except McKillop), Exodus were back in business.
If you want thrash…you’ve got it, starting with the opening track “Scar Spangled Banner” and “War Is My Sheppard”, both brilliant exhibitions of vintage metal in the new century that keep the magic of the past intact. The truly destructive riffs and their skilled incessant variations are as rich as usual, though this time both Holt and Hunolt add a considerable bigger quantity of complexity in their performance. Song structures intend to complicated, more varied, determined and introduced by the hyperactive transformation of leading guitar lines. There’s a bunch of tempo modifications and even time for lengthy instrumental sequences on which the 6-string section combo have much space to play their extended pickin’ parts, while rhythmic section supports them discreetly. The violence of vicious riffs and hooks prove Exodus classic manners haven’t been adulterated to fit the current trends of the subgenre. That couple of tunes were pretty technical but not the most progressive, “Forward March” with its sudden totally mellow break and some parts of “Blacklist” are, even more elaborated and diverse, making clear these guys evident determination to create something difficult and ambitious. The results are absolutely successful, showing certain distinction and refinement in their music with that touch of melody combined reasonably with brutality. Sweet harmonies can be found on “Shroud Of Urine” particularly, actually its main riff is kinda mellow though that middle break with both guitarist synchronized ideally is what will really take your attention. On other hand, thrash elements are lacking on more casual numbers like “Throwing Down” or “Sealed With A Fist”, deprived of speed and severe riffing, weightier and giving vocals much more presence.
Years have passed but Exodus are still competent, challenging, ready to offer very consistent energetic music. They were one of the vital originators of the Bay Area thrash wave and each of these compositions features that genuine style, without peculiar changes. Probably the only unusual characteristic here is that higher level of technique, much more intricate and pretentious than ever before. Of course, we can find some complicated classics in their old records but their concept of thrash had always been rather direct and raw. They try something more advanced this time and increase the percentage of melody also, giving an unexpected essence to some of these cuts with the delicate texture of harmonies and riffs during those surprising breaks. So everything isn’t focused on velocity and sonic violence only, the professional construction of the tunes and those classy elements demonstrate Exodus have bigger aspirations in this mature effort. Although the most die-hard thrash fans will certainly enjoy the absolute aggression and frantic speed of both title-track and “Impaler” (Did Kirk Hammett really write that!?), which get rid of sophistication to put emphasis on the elemental characteristics of the subgenre. Lyrics seem to go in regression to the group’s blackened thrash days at times, getting particularly violent and topical like “Impale your wife, slay your son, another gory mess”, attacking religion: “The insanity Of Christianity is just a fucking masquerade” but also reflecting the circumstances of the time when they were conceived (the first track speaks for itself), though this record has definitely amusing words as you can check on “Culling The Herd” and its subtle sarcasm. The nostalgia Exodus feel for their mid-80’s identity is reflected as well on that wicked cover painting and the chosen title for the CD.
Definitely, the greatest thing Exodus did in many years, an album that brings back the delightful immature spirit of thrash to the new century with extra melody and progression. These numbers take you back to the 80’s when the subgenre was pure and fascinating, reflecting as well the experience and technical improvement of those teenagers who have grow-up, turning into veteran musicians. CDs like this contributed to consolidate the total nostalgia for the classics; the 90’s grunge reign of terror was over. Unfortunately, Zetro wouldn’t take part on the band’s following projects, Hunolt either, so Holt and Hunting were the only old members left to create Exodus’ new incarnation.
Tempo of the Damned can be compellingly deceptive on first blush, as it's tracks embody two fairly disparate styles divided by some sort of stylistic cut-off point located around the center of the album. Everything from "Scar Spangled Banner" to "Shroud of Urine" is unabashedly high-tempo thrash, save for a few obligatory lulls during the chorus of "Blacklist". The rest of the album (save for "Impaler", which we'll get to later) are all in the mid-paced, churning fisticuff style that Exodus seems to have become quite fond of lately.
A great vocalist can really be the deciding factor during the slower, more groove-infected numbers, and Souza is thankfully still up to the task. His impish inflection is absolutely all over tracks like "Sealed with a Fist", helping keep the whole ordeal's head above water when the slicing edge of Holt's riffs begins to dull. Others like "Culling the Herd" and "Throwing Down" don't fare quite so well, but are still far superior to most of the similar numbers fronted by Dukes. Souza's voice has actually improved with age, with an extra layer of grit accumulated on top of his normal nasal intonation. He reaches some harpy-like highs and even interjects some lower roars into certain parts of "War Is My Shepherd".
Holt's percussive riffing style is still here in spades, but Sneap's production has always rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it is because I jumped from Shovel Headed Kill Machine right into this, but the guitars aren't as prominent as I would like. The tone still has that grimy Exodus crunch to it, but other than occasionally perking up during some of the lead sections, the guitars fall a bit flat. It doesn't help that a lot of Tempo of the Damned's appeal is hinged on Holt's riffs, riffs that show potential but are a bit let down by the mix. The one natural exception to this paradigm is "Impaler", which is infamous for being a Bonded by Blood castoff that was thankfully never forgotten and put to effective use here. It has an archaic appeal and stands out like a sore thumb in the procession, being bookended by two of the more grooving numbers. I'm aware that Hunolt is here to reunite the "H-Team", but if you are familiar with his state of mind at this point in time along with his impending departure, it is unlikely that he contributed much of the songwriting.
The silky smooth production does Hunting great favors on the kit, not that he needs much help in delivering a rock-solid percussive backbone. He has a fairly distinctive style that was sorely missed on Shovel Headed Kill Machine, and I swear that nobody can do the quick triplet double-bass fills as accurately as him. I wish Gibson was more prominent, though. His clangy tone added a great underproduced appeal to some of the later albums - an appeal that naturally can't coexist with Sneap - so off to the void his bass goes.
I don't want to be misconstrued, Tempo of the Damned is still as good of as a comeback album as can be expected considering the whirlwind of chaos most of the members went through during most of the decade prior to it's inception. In fact, during certain passages I almost need to check and make sure I'm not actually listening to Impact is Imminent, which this can easily go toe-to-toe with at it's best. "Sealed with a Fist" is a real knockabout bruiser, but the rest of the slower cuts are decidedly hit or miss. It's a shame that Souza departed shortly after the tour commenced, because Exodus hadn't lost a step as a cohesive unit here despite my minor quibbles with the production and mid-paced numbers. I have to nitpick, it's what I do.
Exodus had always been a top thrash metal band throughout their career. Personally, I'm not happy with their early albums' sound. Yes, the production was not good because it was the '80s, but neither was Baloff really good, if you ask me. What's the point on having to get used to a singer's voice in order to dig his style? He lacked the fury that he obviously needed as a singer of Exodus.
When it comes to Tempo of the Damned though, things aren't the same. The production is modern and extremely powerful, just as it should. Exodus are not like some bands who seem to sound great 'cause of the crunchy, eerie, and aged sound their producer could arrange at the time (obviously I'm refering to the '80s ). They needed intense strength and commanding might to achieve their bloodthirsty badass style. That's what the production provides them with this album. As for Souza, well, he's just what the band needed. An angry motherfucker eager and willing to kick some serious ass, full of pure hatred and sworn to devastate the auditor's ears. His hoarse voice that's squeaky from time to time is capable of delivering sheer intensity on Exodus' compositions
Now, to get down to brass tacks, let's praise the thrash: aggressive, violent, mindblowing and bloodstained. There's so many sturdy, cohesive, and huge riffs that I can't really highlight just one of them, although I truly love the main riff in Blacklist. The guitars go nuts in this album, swapping rapidly from speedy, wrathful, and complex riffs to unbearably heavy ones. And while many of the thrashing rough riffs included in this album are harmonically combined with sweet leads turning into sheer greatness, mighty heavy ones, but not many slow ones, will not be missed. Both headbangers and rattleheads will have a great time listening to this.
Regarding the drumming, it certainly does not disappoint the listeners. Completing the music rather than just filling in the gaps, Tom Hunting is doing some creditable work on the drums, whether keeping heavy and speedy paces or carrying out some great rattling fill-ups. Of course, extreme tempos do dominate this album, such as the main one in War Is My Shepherd, but nevertheless, they're all tempos of the damned for those who are luckily damned to eternal headbanging - us. The bass is more or less degraded, but unfortunately this is the case in almost every metal band. Be sure, though, that it has its own highlights (i.e. the beginning of Shroud of Urine).
As compositions, the songs are sheer thrash metal. The one we, the fans, live and breath for - aggressive, politically-influenced music which commands you to enter the limbo of wrath and rattleheading. Fortunately for us, the solos are just as great and skilled. While they lack pure melody, like the one Testament are able to put into their music, the skill and the inspiration Holt possesses is to be praised. Extreme vibrato-squeals are robustly blended with lightning-like tappings and wild, escalating pickings. Again, there's not a single solo that doesn't stand up to the album's quality while the solos in War Is My Shepherd, Blacklist, and Forward March are in the limelight.
Regarding the lyrics, my feelings are intensively ambivalent. I mean, you gotta admit that they kick fucking ass! The lyric part Souza sings right before the beginning of the solo in Scar Spangled Banner is amazing. I've never heard a more precise description of America's flag's colors. All this barbarian obscene violence that people bear is so accurately defined. War Is My Shepherd depicts the same scene, this time from a soldier's aspect. What can you believe in when everything's falling apart if not war, the violent instinct of man? On the other hand, though, the album contains some seriously clinical cases! Have you heard Impaler or Sealed with a Fist? Sick stuff! They may be cool from our wicked metalhead-ish tastes, but they're absolutely pointless and gore. I also dislike the constant attack on Christianity. It's a theme so commonly addressed by hateful metal bands that it gets boring. I'm not a fanatic myself; I don't bother a lot with Christianity, however I do respect that for some people it means a lot and, as I wouldn't want others to offend my music, I wouldn't be very pleased to offend their values.
All in all, this album is a must have for every man who wishes to call himself a thrasher. Sturdy, great riffs, damned speedy tempos, robustly enjoyable solos, and nicely harsh vocals are what you're going to discover listening to this album. Is it worth the devotion? Yeah, it definitely is!
Some albums get built up to be way more than what they actually are by virtue of who the band is, while other albums get put down as absolute flops for the same reason. But Exodus received a rare honor upon their reformation, with Zetro back at the helm, and managed to release an album that managed to do both at the same time. The resulting equilibrium between greatness and failure manifests itself as an unapologetic exercise in thrash modernity, making little pretense about trying to relive a glorious past steeped in the 80s tradition of the San Francisco Bay Area. In other words, Exodus returned to the stage with all the youthful vigor of their former incarnation with the same lineup, but painted over it with something of a middle-aged exterior by virtue of the stylistic direction chosen.
To put it one plainly, "Tempo Of The Damned" is a gray affair after the likes of late 90s Overkill and Pantera when it rides in mid-tempo, and generally resembles the comeback albums of their California compatriots Heathen and Death Angel when driving forth at full speed. Zetro's vocals have taken on a much nastier and more nasally character that is heavily reminiscent of the modern sleaze-bag shriek of Blitz Ellsworth, though a little more throaty and not quite as exaggerated. This approach tends to work well with the stripped down, repetitive character of the riffing style that is employed, which really isn't all that different from the pounding, somewhat overproduced character of this era's follow up album "Shovel Headed Kill Machine". In fact, were it not for Zetro's wicked snarls on such laid back groove-mongers like "Blacklist" and "Forward March" (the latter sounds like it was partially lifted off of "Bloodletting"), these songs would fall absolutely flat for the slow and minimal amount of musical activity.
While at times this album really feels like its about to cut loose and go along a route of absolute ass-kicking in the mold of more recent Overkill albums ("Ironbound"), something always seems to drag this thing back down to earth rapidly. "Scar Spangled Banner" has all the makings of a skull-pulverizing metallic machine from ear-destroying riff work and multiple tempo switches, but the overly processed drum sound and almost digital guitar chug gives more of a "Far Beyond Driven" feel, complete with the needlessly profane tough guy posturing in the lyrics. "Sealed With A Fist" and "Throwing Down" pretty well descend into full out groove mode, and barely manage to stay interesting when Zetro isn't wailing away. The final 2 songs see a return to a more thrash-infused riffing approach and an abandonment of the Phil Anselmo lyrical worship, and this time the riff work manages to be busy and more in line with the brilliance of their 80s work, though still communicated through a modern production.
This isn't the sort of album that inspires outright excitement, but it does have more things going for it than its harshest critics might suggest. It's almost as if Gary Holt and the others wanted to mash every era of modern post-thrash metal that they missed out on between 1992 and 2003 into this thing, and the result is an album that listens like its stuck in two different eras, neither of them anywhere near what those hoping for a sequel to "Bonded By Blood" would expect, though something along that line has been done a couple times with varying success among younger revivalist bands. Then again, this is the sort of album that Machine Head might aspire to if Robb Flynn decided to stick to his guitar and hire a capable vocalist.
Holy shit. The album that got me into Exodus. I still consider this album to be on-par with Bonded By Blood. When you look at a band's discography, inevitably all their new releases will be compared with the past ones, which can sometimes be a blessing, or a curse for that album. Yes, Bonded By Blood is absolutely fucking menacing. But I still think that Gary Holt and co. have produced an excellent masterpiece in Tempo Of The Damned. Even the name of the album, and the album art are masterpieces. They fit Exodus so well.
This album does a similar thing for Exodus as South Of Heaven did for Slayer, and for that I'm really grateful. It showed that Exodus could be nasty, gritty, and pissed off without playing at their signature lightning speeds. This album does however, have outstanding faster moments, including the opening track, Scar Spangled Banner, as well as War Is My Shepherd, Forward March, and the closing and title track, Tempo Of The Damned. This album incorporates a nice diversity of speeds, while retaining the same general feel throughout the album. The groove is undeniable, with songs like Throwing Down and Shroud Of Urine scattered throughout the album.
Most of these songs utilize eerie or unconventional riffing in order to create these interesting grooves, and to some degree this is also incorporated into Holt's solos. I think it's fairly obvious that Gary Holt is willing to try new things, which I think a lot of younger metal bands could learn from and use to their advantage. There are some bands that release several albums of incredibly similar material, however Exodus is one of those bands that proves why their music was successful in the first place (which is the founders' ability and passion for innovation). The drums can present some interesting rhythms at times, however some fills I still find to this day to be a bit unnecessary on some songs. All-in-all though, Tom Hunting is an incredible drummer and for the most part comes up with beats that not only suit the music, but help it progress, where otherwise it would not.
This album also marks the return of an older Exodus song, written with Kirk Hammett, from the 80s. This song is called Impaler. And that's exactly what it will do to you when you listen to it. It will impale you. Hardcore. This is Zetro's last chance to showcase his voice on a truly punishing Exodus track, and boy does he make use of this. It's just something that you have to hear.
There are so many good riffs all through this album, it really just depends on your taste as to which you warm to the most. For more old-school fans, War Is My Shepherd will be a must, however new-school fans may like Throwing Down more, or people new to the metal scene might take an interest in the very catchy Blacklist.
Go out and get this album. If you're used to Pleasures Of The Flesh and Bonded By Blood, do yourself a favour and listen to this, to provide yourself with the ever-high-quality musicianship of Exodus, backed by a previously untapped musical vibe.
Exodus is back motherfuckers! In 2004, after over 10 years an hiatus, the band decided to attempt a big comeback with everyone from the original lineup in tow. Unfortunately, after the live epic "Another Lesson In Violence", fantastic original vocalist Paul Baloff passed on from a stroke. Now armed with a returning Steve Souza, the team were determined to head back into the studio to record a brand new brusier of an album. The result was "Tempo of the Damned", which more or less lives up to expectations.
Most of the classic lineup is here and accounted for. Zetro's vicious, raspy thrash vocals are in killer form. His usual injections of humor are mostly absent here, aside from some dark sarcasm. Holt and Hunolt's guitars are damn strong as well, particularly the seasoned lead shredding of Holt. The man knows how to conjure up a blasting solo yet. The bass of semi new guy Jack Gibson has that notable crunch found in numerous thrash albums these days thanks the injection a modern, loud production. He has a few pretty solid moments like fills and short solos, adding more than Rob McKillop ever has. Tom Hunting returns on the drums, though it seems to me that he never got it back together after "Pleasure of the Flesh". He' still solid, but mostly just plods along with boring tap-taps, and even in the faster songs his fails to make an impression.
Exodus has always had something of a flair for groove thrashin', and this album takes some of the groove metal tendencies to their highest level. Still, most of the songs on this particular album are so bloodcurdlingly AWESOME and vicious that it doesn't even fucking matter! Hell the grooving even helps a bit! "Tempo" starts off with not one, not two, but THREE killer tracks to get heads rolling. "Scar-Spangled Banner", with its wily anti-patriotic lyrics, buzzsaw riffing and big structure make for a killer start. Next: "WAAAAAAR! WAAAAAAR! WAAAAAAAR! WAR IS MY SHEPARD!!!" Some of Zetro's most unhinged and evil vocals run amok here in this downright brutal speeder. In third is the stomping, somewhat anthemic "Blacklist", a personal favorite. Though it has some of those groovy tendencies, it's still a fun song, rife with entertaining lyrics, a really neat solo and a big, memorable hooky chorus. The rest of the songs go here and there in quality. Some good ones include the super-vicious title track, the groove-heavy speeder "Sealed With A Fist", the NWOBHM-flavored "Impaler", and the religion-crushing "Shroud of Urine". "Culling The Herd" is okay, with more cool lyrics, but it just sort of comes and goes. "Forward March" has some of those infamous vocals that border on rapping, but is otherwise a decent thrasher. Beware completely of "Throwing Down", a lousy all-out groover that reeks of second-rate Machine Head (or, you know...Machine Head).
Overall, while the groove tendencies do this album no real favors, they don't terribly hurt either, though a few tracks are lousy and do deem being skipped. The others, though, flat out fucking rule, and the near-full classic lineup is, mostly, in great from here, rocking away like no time passed. Recommended!
This is a return album for the old thrash titans Exodus after a decade of silence. They come back with some of their grooviest and catchiest stuff ever. This album proves that a healthy dose of 'groove' in a thrash metal album isn't always bad. The gang are still going strong despite some adding on a little weight and being rusty for a while.
Steve souza's voice can still pack a punch, His best performances on this album is a 'rapping-sequence' on the track 'forward march'. Souza actually raps the lyrics in the "I got some news for you" part, Which works surprisingly well and is catchy as hell. 'War is my shepherd' is another example of a track which can please both mainstream and old school thrash metal fans. Gary holt is still a monster he once was. He still produces some of the most intricate and original riffs, His soloing is still top-notch. One listen to the solo of 'Blacklist' will give you an indication of Holt's impressive vision and skill as a guitar-player.
A refreshing change to be found here is the total lack of filler material, The crew are still passionate about their music, This is arguably their second best album of all time. The mid-paced riffs have a lot of crunch, The drumming is solid. The production is perfect. Souza's sometimes annoying vocals are leveled very well with the music in the background unlike 'Impact is imminent'. There is no metalcore injection to be found here as in 'shovel headed killing machine'. The bass is clearly audible, The drums sound tight and there is no 'clicking' to be found.
There are some outstanding solos on this album, such as the simple yet melodic solos of 'forward march' and 'blacklist' which are memorable and totally fit into the songs. The songs are structured very well. The only complaint i have is the somewhat silly and immature lyrics on tracks like 'blacklist' and 'sealed with a fist'. There is a cover of an ac/dc song which thankfully isn't the 2nd track of the album. An old school exodus song 'Impaler' makes a return. Which sounds better than ever thanks to the productions.
If you're an exodus fan like me, you will definitely know of the kind of intricate but catchy thrash songs they produce which work as a great soundtrack to go around destroying everything in your path. This will completely satisfy any Exodus fan and any thrash metal fan who is sick of the lackluster releases by the 'Big 4'. There are a few groove-based riffs which will not please the elitists but still there is some strong material here which everyone can like. Buy this album, It's as solid as solid can be.
Wow. Ignore this “Big Four of Thrash” nonsense. Megadeth and Slayer would remain, along with these Bay Area titans. There is not one song here which Exodus will allow me to skip once the disc starts to spin - this will hopefully put a smile on your face and an ache in your neck as the metal thrashing madness fills the air. A killer comeback album after a hefty twelve year absence of new material. There is something extra special about this album - and that is the band themselves.
I shall explain further. Every instrument on this album has its own unique sound that cannot be found on any other work of music. Tom Hunting’s drumming is more technical than it ever has been - and what stands out on this album is the razor sharp double-bass drumming, in machine gun bursts of about three or four every so often. If it was continued for longer durations, it would easily have a Mr Sandoval knocking knees at a similar pace - (just check the relentless “War is My Shepherd”).
The work of the axemen Holt and Hunolt is just brilliant. They have their own sound, unmatched by almost any album released in 2004. There are loads of hammer-ons and pull-offs scattered throughout riffs in the album - the best example featured right from the mammoth opener with “Scar Spangled Banner”. And as for the solos!
Gibson’s bass work is impeccable, especially to be able to match the work of founding member Holt and his counterpart. Now we come to the singing of Souza. It is in traditional Exodus style, and once you are accustomed to its uniqueness you will be disappointed with any new Exodus material that sounds any different.
I am extremely reluctant to hear any newer material due to the loss of Hunting, Hunolt and Souza. However, if the song material is anywhere near that of TOTD, I would probably recommend it. Just buy this album first.
When a band finally releases new music after a 12 year hiatus, there is going to be some tension on what the material will sound like. In the case of Exodus, when it was announced that Steve Souza would be returning to the fold for vocal duties most people’s hopes skyrocketed on whether or not they would just take up where they had left off. As it turns out, Exodus not only returned in top shape but in better shape then they had left in.
“Tempo of the Damned” is a modern thrash masterpiece. Not quite the old thrash sound of the 1980s, Exodus does play a style that is very close to that. A modern production really brings Exodus up to date with most of the other bands but their attitude and energy feel as though this album could have followed up “Bonded By Blood.”
Gary Holt’s guitar work has stepped up the notch since we last heard the band in 1992. Exodus’ groove oriented sound is still in the mix on “Tempo of the Damned” but this time there is a significant amount of thrash added. Most of the thrash influence is heard in the chaotic and technical solos and leads on the album. The heavy groove inspired riffs still have some great thrash injection in them and Gary Holt is one of the most talented riff writers in the industry.
The bass work is well played but unfortunately (and in a very thrash manner) the bass just follows the guitars for the most part. It helps that there is a heavy groove to the album so the bass does have moments where it directs the music during the solos and longer leads. The drums, courtesy of Tom Hunting, are a great combination of variety and simplicity. There are not a lot of technical areas in the drum work but the simplicity of the playing benefits the overall feeling of the album. It’s a case where less is indeed more.
Having Steve Souza return for the vocals is a wonderful thing. Not that Paul Baloff (R.I.P.) was a bad vocalist, but Souza is probably the perfect Exodus vocalist. His combination of snarling and harsh barking is very unique and it’s a welcome sound to hear him sing with Exodus again. It should also be mentioned that the lyrical writing of “Tempo of the Damned” has also been stepped up. Rather than the tongue in cheek humor that Exodus had been using, the lyrics take a step towards social and political issues. Not to mention a good lesson in violent fun to the mix.
Exodus is certainly back with a vengeance. The combination groove and thrash along with a serious side and a reunion line-up is unstoppable on this album. Fans of both newer and older Exodus are going to enjoy this album.
Songs to check out: Scar Spangled Banner, Blacklist, Impaler.
Tempo of the Damned is the album that got me into Exodus in the first place, yes, I hadn't all heard all that much of them before, but when I heard Tempo of the Damned, it immediately became my favourite album of all time. This has changed since then, but back in 2003, it blew me away.
Scar Spangled Banner starts off the journey into Exodus's remade world of thrash. A great starting riff starts us off and the drums kick in, and you can't help but bang your head. Anyone who says this track (or this album for that matter) is no good just can't handle the fact that Exodus's sound has changed since its previous albums, it's cleaner, and Souza does have a little bit of a say, whiny tone to his voice. Now that I've listened to Shovel Headed Kill Machine about a hundred times, I don't appreciate Souza's voice as much. But you know what? He sings well, and the song is pure thrash, it's great. "Red the beautiful colour of blood, flowing like a stream. White the colour of bleaching bone, lovely and obscene. Blue the bruising colour of flesh, battered ripped and torn. The colours of the flag of hate, of violence and porn." Now I'm not Anti-American or anything, but I must say that is pretty damn great. Oh ya, the solos are sweet too.
War Is My Sheppard is a track that is carried by Souza, the guitars are fast and the drums pounding, but Souza really does an excellent job on this track, his screams of "WAR, WAR, WAR IS MY SHEPPARD" are simply awesome. I must note that with about 20 seconds left in the song, the riff is a helluva lot more awesome then in the rest of the song. All in all, a fast song that carries the pace set by Scar Spangled Banner.
Blacklist slows things down a bit, and although it might not exactly be deep and meaningful, it does have a pretty damn good intro. The riff is catchy, and the bass is quite a bit more audible on this track then on most of the others on the album. The solo on Blacklist is quite nice; it's definitely the best one up to this point on the album, although later on Shroud of Urine and Forward March, the solos surpass it.
A review stated that Shroud of Urine sounded like wannabe black metal... I don't get it, I don't like that much black metal and don't listen to it too often, but I fail to see how this sounds like anything but thrash. The intro, wow, those drums sound great and the bass too. The riff is just amazing, and when the solo kicks in... sweet jesus. The lyrics are also great, "You're crucifucked and your out of luck if you put your faith in the flock", I mean, wow. The highlight of this song is definately the solo though, it's so nice, it just... fits perfectly.
Forward March. Definitely the best track on the album. This song was and might still be my favourite song of all time. It kicks in fast, and keeps on going, the gallops on the double bass are nice, the riff is awesome, Souza does a good job singing, although it's true it's almost rap like, but whatever, it's called change, I know some people might shun this as stupidity and wannabe rap metal, but I disagree. Oh well, to each his own. As the song reaches the 3 minute and 30 second mark.... well... it gets a whole lot more intense. This is perhaps the coolest instrumental part of a song I've ever heard, the solos are just mesmerizing, it's not like I'm listening to a song anymore, I feel like I'm being shown just how insanely good metal can get. This track changed life a little bit for me, and it's because of this that I decided Tempo of the Damned was my favourite album of all time.
Culling the Herd is a good track, but after Forward March, it just doesn't seem up to the task of keeping the album at a constant pace. The solos are great, but the change in pace from the last track to this one is a little bit much, it would have been better put later on in the album, with some of the faster songs right after Forward March. If I listen to this track on its own, I tend to appreciate it so much more.
Sealed with a Fist. The pissed off honeymoon story. I like the track, although it's not quite on par with the first 6 tracks of the album, I think after Forward March the album drops off a little bit and doesn't really fulfill until the title track Tempo of the Damned.
Throwing Down has some great vocal parts, and the cowbell is just great, it's hilarious. Not a bad track.
I don't see what's so great about Impaler, I kind of find it the poorest track on the album. It has an awesome riff which does kind of remind one of Trapped Under Ice... it's fairly more old school, but I don’t know, I don't really like Souza's voice on this one, I guess I'm kind of glad he got replaced on Shovel Headed Kill Machine.
Tempo of the Damned is slower paced then the other ones, I like the riff and Souza's voice. It's a good way to end off the album.
The ACDC cover is cool, but it's not on the regular edition of the album so I wasn't sure if I should say anything about it. Oh well, I love ACDC.
All in all, Tempo of the Damned was a huge comeback, it was an awesome comeback, I can't believe people don't approve, what are you looking for? Pleasures of the Flesh remake but keep shitty production? Jesus people, Tempo of the DAMNED, it's thrash! And you know what, Shovel Headed Kill Machine out thrashes this masterpiece in everyway, something which I never imagined possible.
I'll say this right at the beginning - what we have here is the best thrash record for many years and an intense comeback for underrated thrash-masters Exodus. Tempo of the Damned was showered with praise since its release and I too am here to praise and not berate it. Never has a thrash album been this sarcastic since The Anti-Christ or as Riff-oriented as Torture Squad's Horror and Torture and though they don’t play fast here - its bludgeoning mid-paced riffs more than make up for it.
Exodus were always the underdogs in the thrash movement even though they were superior to many of the thrash bands at the time. Bonded by Blood and Fabulous Disaster were classics in the genre but Exodus were never recognized as much as Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer or Anthrax (known as the big four). Out of these, Metallica has always been the far too overrated one and Anthrax should never be taken seriously (NEVER!). Even though they were appreciated by the scene they never reached the levels of hype or popularity these "Big Four" bands did. Yet, despite being pushed down Exodus always come out with an Iron Fist, take for instance THIS very album - after releasing the terrible Impact Is Imminent and the average Force Of Habit, Exodus have reformed with Zetro after a live album and brief stint with former vocalist Paul Baloff who sadly passed away a short time later. The band joined up with Zetro to soldier on the Exodus spirit in Baloff's name and oh my Baloff is damn proud of this album I'm sure!
This album see's Exodus combine Pure Thrash with some Half-thrash elements and groove. Lets address some of the flaws that people complain about - Exodus always play Mid-paced here and that people feel discouraged by that, but since when were Exodus bad at Mid-paced riffage? Has everyone forgotten Toxic Waltz and other such classics? Many people complain about Zetros voice but I can’t find anything wrong with this! Don’t believe whoever says Zetro sucks here cause they're most likely a bunch of pussies who cant take raw, harsh vocals and probably love Sum41's lead singer's voice. The groove in songs such as Throwing Down and Sealed with a Fist. I never was a fan of groove but both of these songs do well with their groove elements. When music is done well no matter what form it is, it's got to be appreciated. Next, the rapping in Forward March. I am not a guy who says "Yo Dude, That’s a PHAT tune" or something like that but I bet no Rap fan would enjoy this, Zetro doesn't overdo it anyway so just quit it.
Now since all the flaws have been checked, let’s check out the good points of the CD. Doing a track by track review would be a waste of time since every song here is above average but I will point out the strong points here. The lyrics are awesome, Zetro combines tongue-in-cheek and rhyme perfectly and manages to come up with some great lyrics that'd make you roll on the floor with laughter. Opener Scar Spangled Banner with its riff heaviness has some of the cheekiest lyrics ever "I'm no patriot/Just a hate-riot" and such lines make this even more memorable than the first class play on here has. Next follows THE best song on this album - War Is My Sheppard. The title would raise many a Catholic's hair and the lyrics are just as In-Your-Face and Brutal as the song with Zetro shrieking everywhere almost reminiscent of Dani Filth except a million times better, the chorus is awesome - War! War! War! War Is My Sheppard! Just right for a live concert.
Then appears Blacklist which is another good song - a good chorus and more riff excess makes it a must. Zetro sounds really pissed off in this song and the chorus is just perfect for that kind of vocal attitude. Then Shroud of Urine which is another absolute highlight of the album- not because of its lyrics (which are good as well), not because of Zetro's vocals (which are awesome as well), not because of its chorus (which has hair-raising shrieks from Zetro) but because of that solo there at 2:24. Just listen how it easily compares with many of Judas Priests solos, it slowly builds up and always keeps a great sense of melody within it. Perfect solo if you ask me. Next up is the controversial Forward March which features an issue I have addressed earlier; the song is above-average with some good vocal lines :). Culling The Herd is probably the albums weakest song - its slow and bland, Enjoyable but pretty predictable in the end except for its great solos and a nice chorus. Then Sealed with a Fist is a slow groovy song which people complain quite a lot about, it’s enjoyable, short and the groove isn't overdone.
The album is in its ending stages and I thought it'd be losing steam at least now but I was once again proved wrong. The very controversial Throwing Down which some lunatics even call "nu-metal" just shows that the album isn't dead. Yes, the groove IS overdone but it’s still enjoyable. I'll tell you why - The lyrics = great, the chorus and pre-chorus = rules, the vocals = awesome (esp. during the chorus), that groovy riff = great even though it’s repeated quite a lot, the solo = enjoyable though it has too much wah-wah. Next is the bonded-by-blood session song known as Impaler that's as brutal as the name suggests. Metallica ripped this off Exodus on Trapped under Ice but here Exodus show Metallica how the song is REALLY done! Its awesome, look at that intro-riff just sweet. What Exodus are trying to say is "We're Number One, We hate Sucktallica". Overall, a really enjoyable power thrash song. Last up, the title song which is a fitting closer and has all the ingredients for an enjoyable ride. What especially rules in this song is the chorus and the solo. Awesome!
To conclude this review, I'd like to leave a note on the next album which was just released - This album is not only a great comeback but also a fitting tribute to the late Baloff, Zetro would leave after the release of this and Rob Dukes would come in. I have heard their latest Shovel Headed Killing Machine and I'd say Dukes is trying to imitate Zetro but instead of shrieking he opts for a much hoarser voice than Zetro. I think he is a pretty good replacement for Zetro even though I do miss Zetro's screeching in the new one, anyway what’s done is done and Exodus continues to rule. If you don’t have this album, get it now, if you don’t have the new one, do the same.
Okay, I'm happy thrash is making a comeback, and some classic bands are reuniting and producing new material. But, how desperate can you get? Exodus has gone trendy trying to appeal to idiots.
The Scar Spangled Banner starts out with a good riff, reminds me of old Exodus, but the songs contents are corny. They sound like whiny old men. Damn, what happened? War Is My Sheppard has an okay riff but it lacks that top caliber edge and melody they had on past albums. Blacklist is an average thrash song with an average mid to slow paced riff. Souza sings about assaulting someone for pissing him off and talking shit, and now that person's on his blacklist...
Tempo Of The Damned delivers me to track four, Shroud Of Urine. This song sounds like shit, are they trying to be black metal? Please don't screech like that Souza, your voice cracks, and it's obvious you're just screaming like that to attract new black/death fans to your fading band. Sorry, it's the truth. :( Exodus were once legends, but I'm not feeling this album. It's slow for the most part, and it might be time for them to call it quits. There's an alright solo in the middle of the song. Yet, as I stated earlier, for the most part they’re becoming very trendy, anti-christian, anti-patriotic. It's just getting old. Anything to pick up a $ is what I think. Forward March is a fast song with more creative lyrics, the chorus is descent, but it's nothing like Bonded By Blood or Fabulous Disaster. The song is tainted when he yells Forward March like it's some hardcore song a couple times, and it sounds like he's rapping with that riff for a minute yelling mother fucka. Haha. I never thought I'd say this, but Souza’s voice is starting to annoy me. Sounds like a frog a bit. Someone needs to re-animate Baloff.
Moving onto Culling The Herd. Another slower song, with a descent chorus, but it gets boring after a while. Sealed With A Fist is a song about a dude who batters his wife and she eventually gets fed up and shoots him. Interesting combination here, are Exodus satanic feminists? Anyway the songs not too great, but even though it might sound like a lame subject to sing about, I like it somewhat because it tells a story. Anyway, the guy gets what he deserves, and that's how the song ends.
A thing I noticed is Exodus has slowed down considerably, that's not always bad but in Throwing Down it is disastrous. The song sounds like new hardcore. Impaler is a violent song in the vein of old Exodus, just slower once again. Halfway through it speeds up a little and a gnarly solo’s added in for a bonus. It's not quite as melodic as some of the previous songs, not bad though. Reminds me of Kreator a little. Tempo Of The Damned itself is a fast and gritty piece. It once again lacks that great melody Exodus used to incorporate into their songs. Some decent solos here, that’s about it. It's just average thrash, still better than most stuff out there.
Anyway I wouldn't recommend this album. It's Exodus at their worst, but here in the 2000s it's still sounds better than a lot of the newer metal bands. Hey, at least they didn’t go as downhill as Annihilator, ha. Anyway for old guys playing new thrash I'd look into Tankard, Hirax, etc. Exodus is still alright, but their glory days are over.
"Tempo of the Damned" is an album, that by most means, should not exist. The reunion with Paul Baloff was inspiring some small hope in my system the Exodus could release a long shot followup to the amazing "Bonded by Blood" but this was not to be. Baloff dies, (R.I.P. king of thug-thrash), the band rehires the whiney Steve "Zetro" Souza and now we have this new platter of middling thrash metal.
First off, I will start with the compliments...the band are tight. Probably tighter than ever before. The stop on a dime guitar lurches and drumming really prove who the Bay Area's best musical thrashers were from the early 80's...the production too is top notch. Had this had better songwriting, the sound would have brought an amazing lift to the overall product and we would have had Bonded in Blood part 2.
Sadly...amazing musicianship and tight production cannot fix a lack of amazing songs and outdated attempts at lyrical rage. The CD falls off the tracks when the band starts to shamble through songs that all bear quality riffs but no real discerning hooks or interesting movements. From afar, the songwriting is beefy thrash with muscular riffcraft, but upon closer examination it's simply junk food that snows the listening over with chugging intensity over chugging creativity. The lyrics sound like angry punk rock, without the convincing rage to back up the message. This form of CNN metal only worked when handled with education and wit, not random opinion polls taken in ones back yard. This is hardly an artistic triumph, more a triumph of good production and slamming, energetic riffwork to please you in the moment.
I suggest this CD for all thrash addicts, Exodus fans and the like, but don't be expecting an truly inspired work from the old legends, just be expecting another moshfest that you'll not even be spinning this time next year.
It could have been worse...but it could have been MUCH better.
Let's hope this is the last...
EXODUS want you to bang your head like its 1988. Few metal comeback albums have been as greatly anticipated as this one, and the buzz leading up to and immediately following the release of "Tempo Of The Damned" has been considerable. I’ll admit, I had some serious doubts that the band would be able to produce an album up to the standard of some of their classic earlier works. "Bonded By Blood" and "Fabulous Disaster" were giant names in the metal world in the mid and late 80’s, with the former continuing to be regarded as one of the best thrash albums ever produced.
Does the new one live up to the buzz and expectation? Surprisingly, yes. EXODUS has produced a strong new album that sounds like, well, a lot of their other albums. EXODUS have not reinvented themselves, gone nu metal, added sampling, or changed their songwriting, style or sound. What they have done is produce an album packed full of the formula that made them such a success in the 80’s. The fat, chunky guitar riffs and alternating single and double bass drum gives "Tempo Of The Damned" a wonderfully retro sounding Bay Area thrash sound. With only a few exceptions such as SHADOWS FALL, that sound has been lacking recently. Andy Sneap’s production gives the album a crisp and polished sound that maximizes the band’s strengths.
The band hits a home run right out of the gate with the opening track, "Scar Spangled Banner", a scathing indictment of America’s culture of violence, war and indifference. It is a perfect opener and gets the head banging quite nicely, thank you. Other stand out tracks include "War Is My Shepherd", "Forward March", the title track, and most interestingly, a version of the Kirk Hammett era track, "Impaler". The latter, a live favorite, fits in nicely with the other material, and serves as further evidence of the band’s consistency.
The band’s strengths remain the same, and unfortunately, so do their weaknesses. The lyrics are often cheesy or just plain silly (see the ridiculously titled "Shroud Of Urine"). There are a lot of fans that are still loyal to the original singer, Paul Baloff, who had reunited the band and would have been on this album if not for his recent death. There is a feeling that Baloff was a superior singer over Steve Souza, the man that has been with EXODUS for most of their existence. Let’s be honest, neither one is an especially good singer. Souza’s sound is a nasally high pitch growl reminiscent of a mix between the two AC/DC singers, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. It appears this is a debt that the band accepts as they have covered AC/DC’s "Overdose" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" on their albums. Souza sometimes uses a lower pitched yell and on the track "War Is My Shepherd", his yell of “War!” is reminiscent of another old school metal singer (Araya’s "War Ensemble" anyone?).
It is a little early to tell whether EXODUS will win over a new metal audience with this effort, but for those of you who loved "The Toxic Waltz" the first time around, "Tempo Of The Damned will be right up your alley. Old school, 1988 all over again. The mullet may even make a comeback.
There has been a truckload of hype and controversy about this album. Some people call it the return of Exodus, while others dismiss it as another veteran band trying (and failing) to make a comeback.
Tempo of the Damned is the perfect example of what I call a "valley" album, where the best songs are at the beginning and end, while the middle of the album is filler and/or total suckage. Unfortunately, Exodus decided to make 5 fast paced songs (Scar Spangled Banner, War is My Shepard, Shroud of Urine, Impaler, and Tempo of the Damned), and 5 mid/slow paced songs.
As for the fast songs, Scar Spangled Banner opens up with, (again) unfortunately, the best riff on the album. It really reminds you of old Exodus, with the aggression and hatred and all that hoopla. War is My Shepard continues the strong opening, with Zetro screaming like he's never done before. Skip past Blacklist (we'll get to that later), and you come to Shroud of Urine, which is another good, solid thrash song. Shroud of Urine also has some of the coolest (and goofiest) lyrics on the album, with such phrases as "crucifucked" being thrown around. Skip through the next handful of tracks (which, again, we'll tackle in a moment), and you come to Impaler. Now, Impaler was one of the most hyped parts of this album, since it was cowritten by Hammet back in the day (waaaaaayyyyyy back in the day). The song is strong, and you can tell it is old, since it doesn't really fit with the rest of the album. The album ends with the title track, which is another solid thrasher.
These five songs, if left alone, would have made a great album. Album of the year? No way. Top five? Definitely. Alas, we still have those other songs to look at, which is why this album only gets a 50%.
Starting with "Blacklist", the album takes a turn for the worse. I swear, they must have gotten AC/DC to write this song for them, as it sounds like it came straight off of an AC/DC album. This would be all fine and dandy if it wasn't on a fucking EXODUS ALBUM. The other four filler/suckage tracks seem to just waste space and go right over my head. I found myself thinking "why the fuck did they add this to the album?" over and over again.
One really, really good thing about the album, despite the inconsistency, is Zetro's voice. He really puts on a performance, matching the intensity of Baloff, while keeping his own intentity. Why the hell didn't he sing like this all along? Now I want him to go rerecord the vocals for Pleasures of the Flesh, which would make it 10x better. Anyways, think Baloff meets Chuck Billy and you pretty much got Zetro.
So all in all, did this album impress me? Yes. Did this album disappoint me? Definitely. This would probably be a good album to get someone into "extreme" metal, but those diehard fans who were expecting another Bonded By Blood will be left scratching their head. If you really want to hear the best of it, download the previously mentioned five fast-paced songs. Forget the rest.
…The riffs fall like rain! Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, Exodus are back to smash your brains in like you’ve never had your brains smashed in before. With their latest release Tempo of the Damned, legendary Bay Area thrashers brings back the riff assault of the H-Team in a majestic manner, and they’re still kicking ass as though it was 1985 all over again. However, several modernized elements are very evident in the songwriting on here; the first one you’ll notice being the pretty clean and to a certain extent rather slick, but heavy-as-shit production, which personally I love. The weird-sounding high notes on the guitar tone take some time getting used to, especially those first opening notes of the album. But when you’ve played it a few times, man, it kicks your face in so hard that you can feel the excruciating pain all through your skull, forcing you to bang your head like a madman as soon as Tom Hunting starts pounding the shit out of his drum kit.
The songwriting also shows some modernized elements at times; even the mad thrashers like “War Is My Shepherd” sound very modern in arrangements and riff-style, but still kill as much as many old-school thrash monsters like Death Angel’s “Kill As One” or Kreator’s “Ripping Corpse”. And to be compared with such awesome songs, it certainly has to own- and oh man, it does.
But most of the songs on here are mostly groove-based, but unlike what some might say, these groovy songs sounds far more like “Thunderhead” (Overkill) than “Walk”, and still manage to thrash pretty well. Just listen to “Blacklist” and you’ll know what I mean – a midpaced and quite ‘controlled’ song, but one of the most menacing tunes they’ve done.
“You’d better start runnin’ cause you know that I’m comin’!” Fuck yes.
But before I praise it too much, I need to point out the one weak point of the album: “Throwing Down”. Urgh. “Thunderhead”, this is not. Annoying aggressions in the lyrics that sound anything but honest, and whiney half-thrash vocal melodies that suck like there’s no tomorrow. And the riffs are pretty fucking boring too.
Yeah, this song blows, but it can easily be forgiven, cause the other stuff is so damn good.
The best songs are definitely the fast-paced bangers (Though “Blacklist” is definitely up there! As is “Culling The Herd” – wicked riffage, and you just gotta love the wonderfully brutal lyrics). The one that stands out as my definite favourite is the opening track “Scar Spangled Banner”. Beginning with perhaps the most memorable riffs on the whole album, which is to reappear several times during the song providing some headbanging madness, this is an all-out thrasher lashing out fiercely at U.S.A. with clever and well-done anti-war lyrics which is all too rare these days.
Another personal favourite of mine is “Forward March”. The fast-paced riffs are crushingly heavy and catchy, the extended solo section is goddamn groovy, and the rapping part (yes, he does rap) is actually pretty catchy and not at all horrible, simply because they just infused it at one point in one song instead of spawning an entire genre on talking over sampled songs you didn’t even write. BUT, the best part on here is the verse. Man, that is so fucking in your face that there are no words, and by now I think we all know how much I love that shit.
“So never underestimate the mind of evil thoughts. I will bring you down, spit you out before I’m caught. Because I have the power, and the upper hand – Everybody in the way will know that I’m the man!”
Bow to the gods of thrash, Exodus have taken over the throne yet again, for the first time since Bonded By Blood. And there’s more!
“Shroud of Urine” is a midtempo crunching tune with clever anti-religion lyrics (“You’re cruci-fucked and you’re out of luck, if you put your faith in the flock!” Gotta love that line) and a very interesting almost power metal-sounding lead section, which brings your thoughts to their own “Parasite” or perhaps “Black Line” by Overkill.
And not to forget the fucking title track. BOW TO THE TEMPO OF THE DAMNED! Crazy thrash all the way through, that’s all there is to say. Like riffs? Of course you do. So you like this song, and album. Fact, not opinion.
And all the other stuff, it rules too (aside from “Throwing Down”, obviously). This is not an all-out assault of fast and brutal thrash, so don’t expect a Pleasure To Kill. This still sounds modern, and has lots of midpaced groove elements. If you like later Overkill (think Bloodletting), then this should definitely appeal to you. But the fans of the crushing fast-paced onslaught of “Bonded By Blood” will get theirs too. All in all, this is a mandatory thrash release and the best album I’ve heard in the genre in quite some time. Go get it, assholes, if you don’t already, cause this plain owns. Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt slay like crazy on both riffs and solos, and "Zetro" sounds more brutal, vicious and aggressive than ever with that strange combination of Bon Scott combined with shouting or half-growling vocals, Tom Hunting delivers his possibly greatest drum performance on here, and the bass for once on an Exodus album is audible in the mix, and it is very well played, providing a solid backbone together with the drumming.
Oh yeah, and the mention of Bon Scott reminded me- they did yet another AC/DC cover on here (well, on the digipak version), and man, this is so many times better than Overdose! Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is turned into a monstrously heavy, dirty crusher while maintaining the classic AC/DC attitude and swing, and comes out fucking killer. Excellent job.
Overall... you need this. Now excuse me, but I must headbang.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR! WAR IS MY SHEPHERD!
The title of this review describes my feelings in a nutshell about this album (OK, I downloaded it, sue me--can't afford to buy CDs that often these days), but I will elaborate anyway...
I fondly remember the days of "Bonded By Blood", like everyone else, of course, and think that their first two albums are classics. "Fabulous Disaster" was good but not quite as good as the first two for me, and even though "Impact Is Iminent" was a pretty damn kickass effort, there is no forgiving "Force Of Habit"--it was sluggish and boring. And I was actually pretty relieved when they called it a day after that sad attempt. OK, now, fast forward to the present where, sadly, we have lost the mighty Paul Baloff and his truly psychopathic vocal presence, replaced by his, well, replacement, Steve "Zetro" Souza. I got irritated with his high scratchy squeal after a while back in the day, but the music was still good (mostly), so I tolerated that. And now we have "Tempo Of The Damned" and, well...HOLY MOTHERFUCK!!! HOLY MOTHER FUCKING FUCK!!!!
This album shreds everything in its path. And I do mean everything. The H-Team have a new lease and they are not wasting it for a second. Even old drummer Tom Hunting has returned and he kicks ass harder than a one-legged man in a contest. Fast, slow, everything in betwen, there is a new level of energy and fury in the Exodus camp, and no more of this silly "Toxic Waltz" crap, they are dead serious. It's nice to hear classic thrash played again with the same level of conviction and mania that existed in the olden days, and who better to bring it on back than Exodus, one of the pioneers?
"The Scar-Spangled Banner" leads off with a brutal thrashing to the ears that doesn't let up for a second, and one of the first things I noticed was that Zetro's vocals are much more tolerable. He definitely gets the "Most Improved" award on this album by far with his different approach. He still has that high scratchy thing going, but he also incorporates a deeper, gruffer yelling style that sounds truly scary, which makes him much more tolerable in my book. Overall, his performance is the best I've ever heard from him. "War Is My Shepherd" is a great example of this with his bellows of "WAAAAARRRR!!!!! WAR IS MY SHEPHERD!!!" in the chorus, and he sounds like he will *not* be fucked with. And he does get in some nasty and barbed wordplay in tracks like one of my favorites, "Culling The Herd" (an ode to how stupid people shouldn't breed, something we all need to think of as AmeriKKKa goes further down the tubes): "When will people realize/That people should be sterilized/And tubes are only fit to be tied?".
The slower songs on this album are far from wussy, also, they crush! I disagree with some here in that slower tunes can be effective when placed properly in an album's course. I especially like "Shroud Of Urine" with its melodic twin-guitar part near the end of the solo section, "Forward March" with its catchy chorus and "Throwing Down" when Zetro really lets it all hang out. I could not find a duffer track on this entire album, and for me that's something I rarely say, contrary to what some may think. And rap influences? What the hell are you guys smoking? I don't hear anything of the sort, and that kind of cadence is so commonplace anyway I fail to see what teh big deal is about that. And hey, they take "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", one of the all time classic attitude songs, and do it serious justice, so how can I complain?
And the production is sterling as well, with clear and full guitars, growling bass that cuts through those guitars like a samurai sword, and whipcrack drumming. Whoever produced this knew their stuff, because it sounds perfect.
Really, this is going to be one of the top albums of 2004, I can tell straight away. One of my top 3 if not Number One right where it belongs. Bring it on the road, boyos, I am dying to see them take it to the people! (And bring it to Houston while yer at it, eh?)
This album has been hyped since pretty much the reunion with Baloff in '97, and finally, seven years and one expired poseur-hunter later, it has arrived. Well, then - just what the fuck do we have here, and is it better than The Antichrist? We all know that's my gold standard for modern thrash - the textbook example of how things are Supposed to be Done.
Well, Schmier and friends, move aside. You've been pwned. It's been a great three years on top of the thrash-heap, but competition has arrived, and it's killing time. Yes, kids, holy fucking shit is about right. THIS is the best thrash album of the past howevermany years - you know, since that time when there were thrash albums released every week, and some of them didn't suck, and mercifully none of them were The Gathering.
[EDIT, FOLKS. I just, about a month after I wrote this Exodus review, heard the Torture Squad LP "Pandemonium" from 2003. THAT is the best thrash album of the past howevermany years. The fact that it wipes the floor with the new Exodus is merely a tribute to its "HOLY FUCKING CHRIST"ness, and not something to be held against the Slayteam and pals.]
But, I digress. Apparently, they decided that the 10-song promo that they released was going to be IT, and there was no song called 'Crime of the Century' after all, and no re-recording of 'Death Row', so well here it is. Slightly different in order than the promo, but all the assorted thrash parts are here, and when all is said and done, we've got a mighty impressive thrash entirety.
First, before I describe all the highlights and drown in my own ejaculate matter, I must make a mention of what sucks about this album, and what brought it down from a rating like 93 or 94, which it would've gotten if not for the presence of the downer track called Throwing Down. It's better than Machine Head, and in fact in retrospect (about the 8th listen) I realise that it doesn't suck... it's just that when I had the promo, it came right between War is My Shepherd and Impaler, where it didn't make much sense in the order. But, after Sealed with a Fist it's a decent groover number though the "throwing down... throwing down..." part is a bit stupid. But hey, there's the rest of the album!
Oh, the rest. OH, THE REST!!! Jeebus H. Phineas T. Gage! I have had a large iron rod explosively hurled through my head, entering below the right ear and exiting around the left temple! I have survived and maintained consciousness, but this couldn't have been good for the old cerebrum. This is rule of the highest order. Thrash riffs abound - the best comparison I can come up with is Vio-lence's Oppressing the Masses, especially "Officer Nice", with that middle section that comes out of nowhere and forces you to kill your royal opponents in a brutal manner with a spork for two minutes? Well, about half the songs on here have such a Nice moment. Yes!!!
Those songs include: Scar Spangled Banner, which also has some of the more hilarious Zetro lyrical masterpieces, in the form of "not a patriot, just a hate-riot" and others! Yes, Zetro still has it. Also, Shroud of Urine is similar, and then when they throw in that random Judas Priest sounding solo... MY GOD SOMETHING MUST HAVE GONE WRONG. I woke up this morning and my penis was missing. Same with Blacklist - they throw in that mosher riff and put the solo over it, and you're banging your head as if UP FROM THE DEAD (that's right kids, it's that good that it deserves this sort of a reference), and then they switch key and wouldn't you know it, it sounds excellently monkey-tacular with extra helpings of squid-sexuality! OH YES. RIFFS IST KRIEG. You say it's raining, I say give me back my clothes! I've added your name! TO MY BLACK LIST! The gang chorus at the end - dumb but effective. Kids, thrash isn't about having an IQ of 206 and coming up with creations like 'Dream Theater', which apparently I am too dumb to figure out.
Then there's some slower songs... not stupid slow like Throwing Down, but good effective crunchers like Culling the Herd, which moves on and devours, forcing you to listen to those horrendously beautiful lyrics. Then, the slightly faster Sealed With a Fist, which is a really funny listen as well. "Sixteen rounds - in case she missed!" Heh heh, overkill seals your fate. Then, there's the controversial one - Forward March. I personally love the living fuck out of this song, but then again, I like old-school rap. Okay, let's all stop beating around the proverbial fire hydrant and admit it: Zetro raps in this song. "I've got some news for you, you mother-fucker, there's a new man in town who isn't any sucker". Except it doesn't suck the big P Diddly suck because it doesn't sample any classic Queen songs, it just rips you right the fuck apart while the guitars continue to shove their collective spikes into your worthless asshole. Then there's the inexplicable long melodic section - it's kind of a mishmash of a song, but it works like a motherfucker (who isn't any sucker). I should also mention the rather fast and Germanic-sounding title track... IMMORTAL SOUL! TAKES CONTROL!!! Bow to the tempo of the damned!!!!
Oh yeah, and then the two absolute highlights of the album. Impaler is actually from 1982. People don't seem to have picked up this fact, and more importantly, that 'fast section' that Grimmy lauded actually made its major-label debut in 1984 as a fucking Suckfuckandblowtallica riff. Because FUCKMETALLICA HAS RIPPED OFF EXODUS, JUST LIKE THEY RIPPED OFF EVERY OTHER BAND IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. Motorhead called. We rock harder than you when we're asleep, you pussies. Venom called. We rock harder than you when we're fucking dead, you fucking pussies. Weapon called. We want 'Set The Stage Alight' back. Metal Church called. We kicked you out for a reason, and were heavier and thrashier, earlier. Overkill called. We invented thrash. We don't care what you say. FUCK YOU. Mustaine called. Quit milking it. Diamond Head called. No really, quit fucking milking it. And finally... EXODUS CALLED. Take Kirk out back, and shoot him in the fucking head. Fucking pussy traitor stealing all of Hunting's riffs and making them into Trapped Under Ice, Creeping Death, etc. Yes, that fast part is indeed Trapped Under Impaler, and the song would've made Bonded by Blood if it weren't for the fact that Cuntallica literally stole the riff and put it on an album first. Thieving bunch of dildo-whores. And that was just them back in the 80s! Holy shit, you'd think they couldn't fall any further, but...
Well, I'm not going to get into that. Because there's WAR!!! WAR!!! WAR IS MY SHEPHERD! This is the greatest thrash song of the last howevermany years. Again, apologies to Destruction, and apologies to NAILED TO THE FUCKING CROSS!!!! And apologies to Overkill, and THE SOUND YOU HEAR, IS CRYSTAL CLEAR, THE SOUND OF DYING!!! But now there's a new man in town (who isn't any... oh, you know the drill) and his name is PRAY FOR ALL OF THOSE IN PAIN!! FOR THOSE WHO DIED IN VAIN!!! Jesus! I beg of thee! Return me to the womb from which I was torn!! I SHIT MY PANTS AS I WAIT FOR THE REAPER! It's that good!!!
Oh hell yes. This album brings the pain to all of my orifices, causing discharges of a great variety of bodily fluids. It rapes - and murders! - your wife!! It is the logical successor to Bonded by Blood. Zetrodus has finally come around to being a lean, mean, shredding machine. FUCK YES. AND FOREVER AFTER, YOU CAN HEAR THE LAUGHTER!!!! Communism has eaten your pants!!!
Exodus is best known for Bonded by Blood, which is easily one of the greatest thrash albums of all time. But is this another Bonded by Blood? With the exception of one and 1/2 songs: hell no! For most songs, the formula is: water down Exodus' post-Bonded albums, shit on it with some half-thrash elements and hard rhymes, but add a few mildly redeeming features here and there, and viola, you have the new Exodus.
The bad? First of all, there are elements of hard rhyming (borderline rapping) in a few songs, though Zetro's vocals aren't bad for the most part. Combined with unnecessary use of profanity, even on the top of decent lyrics, it makes some songs almost fucking unlistenable. Secondly, cruddy half-thrash influences are everywhere, though it's not really derivative of anything that I can put my finger on. They seldom create that thrashy wall of sound that I so love, with all its brutality and polyriffed chaos -- it often sounds like Pantera or Machine Head sped up a bit, often relying on distortion and groove. Of course, the half thrash is all in the musicianship -- fortunately, there's no misplaced techno/industrial elements or anything. This would be a decent half-thrash album compared to the rest, though.
The good? The guitar solos fucking slay, though they're not over the top and stunning. The lead guitar is often pretty good. The production is excellent, and the instruments are all clear and pronounced, with a loud-as-hell yet crisp sound. However, I'm not sure what influence producer Andy Snead of Machine Head and Skinlab had in the music itself, since a good deal of this album would be better if it had the production of Capricornus' Stahlgewitter but the music of Bonded Like Blood instead of half-thrash.
Oh, and the exceptional one and 1/2 songs:
Impaler REALLY fucking picks up at 1:45, though! It is sheer headbanging, back to the Bonded by Blood days true ass-kicking thrash, but only lasts little more than a minute, and then winds down for the rest of the song. GOD DAMNIT, why can't you do what you did on 1:45-3:03 for most the album!?! ARRGH! You would have equaled, if not exceeded Bonded with this album if you did!
The titular track (Tempo of the Damned) itself, though, is the true gem of the album. If the whole album sounded like this, it would easily get a 96% from me. It's in the vein of Bonded, but with viciousness, speed, and ferocity rivaling that of harsh German thrash. Everything is there: riffs from hell, aggressive drumming, vicious vocals, and a great solo tied together with the great production. It sounds exactly like what a modern Exodus should sound like! Why is it the only one like this?
Unfortunately, most of the other songs have good and bad movements in them, but are generally just mediocre. Scar Spangled Banner isn't bad, but just ok. War is my Shepard sounds really promising at first, but goes downhill. Blacklist is crap. Shroud of Urine is crap, save for the solo. Forward March kicks ass for a brief moment, then goes from mediocre to UTTERLY GAY with rap elements. Culling the Herd is lousy Pantera worship, though I agree with the lyrics. Sealing the Fist and Throwing Down are also utter crap, and also sound like lost Pantera songs, though they're actually lost Wardance songs.
I wish I could give rate this on a two-dimensional, time-based scale -- 96% for the actual thrash in the title track and a minute of Impaler, and a few parts in other songs like War is my Shepard. For most of the rest, it's about a 40% average, dipping into the single digits at times. A fair estimate for the album as a whole would be 57%, so that's what I'll give.
(Note: this is a review of a burnt copy of the pre-release, but since it originated with Steve Souza, everything's definitely in order.)
After over a decade of way more shit than any band should have to go through, Exodus has finally pulled themselves together and put out an album. With their legacy of brutal, riff-heavy thrash, their disappointing last couple albums, and all the hype surrounding "the return of the Slay Team!" Exodus has a lot to live up to with Tempo of the Damned. Do they deliver?
Simply put - oh yeah. Tempo is a true beast of an album, a combination of ripping thrash and weighty groove reminiscient of Overkill's WFO, as well as of their own Fabulous Disaster. The guitars shred, the bass is powerful and very audible, the drums are fast and solid, and Steve Souza has never sounded this good in his life. As a matter of fact, the highlight of the album overall is probably Zetro's vocal ownage, in which he adds some Mille Petrozza near-growls ("War Is My Shepherd") and throat-ripping shrieks ("Tempo of the Damned") to his usual arsenal of snarls and squeals.
As for the songs, the major highlights are to be found at the beginning of the album; one of the best 1-2-3 punches I've heard in a long time in "Scar Spangled Banner," the afore-mentioned "Shepherd," and "Blacklist." The opening track "Banner" is that rarest of creatures in modern years, an anti-war metal song done right. Remember "Disposable Heroes" and "Two Minutes To Midnight"? Exodus does, and they produced a fast-paced song with an excellently intricate main riff, great drumming, and an enraged, yet catchy chorus. "Blacklist" is a chugging track that reminds of "And Then There Were None"; while not as technical, "Blacklist" is damn catchy, and has a great intro riff that pops up again at the 3-minute mark and once more at about 5:30.
In between those, there's "War Is My Shepherd," easily the album's finest hout, and probably the best Exodus song since "Piranha." The riffs are speedy and fearsome, and the "PRAY! For all of those in pain!" rhythm of the pre-chorus is pure headbanging beauty. Then comes the chorus, with the aforementioned Germanic roars of "WAR! WAR!" Catchy, brutal, and violent–Exodus at their best. You'll be screaming "Praise the lord and pass the ammunition!" by your second listen.
Now, the bad. Unfortunately, Gary Holt saw fit to re-record a track ("Throwing Down") from his largely unsuccessful Wardance project; with no offense meant to Mr. Holt, I can see why Wardance didn't get anywhere. The opening riff isn't bad, but it gives way a boring, Machine Head-ish chug followed by a downright embarassing latter-day Pantera chorus. The vocal melody sucks too...an injustice to the rejuvenated Zetro.
Despite that moment of disappointment, the Bay Area boys redeem themselves with the closing title track. The first two minutes of "Tempo" are faster than anything else on the album, and simply fucking KILL the listener. After a good midpaced solo, the speed kicks back in leading up to Souza's final vicious screams - great stuff.
Another notable track is the album epic, "Forward March," which boasts a nice set of riffs as well as some questionable vocals that, while not really rap, honestly sound pretty crappy. The extended guitar solos in the middle rock, though, so the song turns out good. "Shroud of Urine" is a good, straightforward up-tempo triplet tune with cool lead work that sounds approximately eight hundred and sixty-four times better live. And then there's "Impaler," which was left off Bonded for some reason, possibly Kirk Hammet riff burglary or simply space considerations. (Has anyone considered that KIRK might have written the riff? Just a thought...) In any case, yes, that is "Trapped Under Ice" in the middle, yes, it is an awesome riff no matter who came up with it, and yes, this song fucking murders .
While not quite a mind-boggling effort, Tempo of the Damned proves that thrash metal is alive and well on the Left Coast, and is a great listen for anybody yearning for the days when men were men, women wore Death Angel babydolls, and only poseurs cut their hair. Vicious, solid and reassurring.