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"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Sadly...amazing musicianship and tight production cannot fix a lack of amazing songs and outdated attempts at lyrical rage.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...