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…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!