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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!