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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!