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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?)