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When a band finally releases new music after a 12 year hiatus, there is going to be some tension on what the material will sound like. In the case of Exodus, when it was announced that Steve Souza would be returning to the fold for vocal duties most people’s hopes skyrocketed on whether or not they would just take up where they had left off. As it turns out, Exodus not only returned in top shape but in better shape then they had left in.
“Tempo of the Damned” is a modern thrash masterpiece. Not quite the old thrash sound of the 1980s, Exodus does play a style that is very close to that. A modern production really brings Exodus up to date with most of the other bands but their attitude and energy feel as though this album could have followed up “Bonded By Blood.”
Gary Holt’s guitar work has stepped up the notch since we last heard the band in 1992. Exodus’ groove oriented sound is still in the mix on “Tempo of the Damned” but this time there is a significant amount of thrash added. Most of the thrash influence is heard in the chaotic and technical solos and leads on the album. The heavy groove inspired riffs still have some great thrash injection in them and Gary Holt is one of the most talented riff writers in the industry.
The bass work is well played but unfortunately (and in a very thrash manner) the bass just follows the guitars for the most part. It helps that there is a heavy groove to the album so the bass does have moments where it directs the music during the solos and longer leads. The drums, courtesy of Tom Hunting, are a great combination of variety and simplicity. There are not a lot of technical areas in the drum work but the simplicity of the playing benefits the overall feeling of the album. It’s a case where less is indeed more.
Having Steve Souza return for the vocals is a wonderful thing. Not that Paul Baloff (R.I.P.) was a bad vocalist, but Souza is probably the perfect Exodus vocalist. His combination of snarling and harsh barking is very unique and it’s a welcome sound to hear him sing with Exodus again. It should also be mentioned that the lyrical writing of “Tempo of the Damned” has also been stepped up. Rather than the tongue in cheek humor that Exodus had been using, the lyrics take a step towards social and political issues. Not to mention a good lesson in violent fun to the mix.
Exodus is certainly back with a vengeance. The combination groove and thrash along with a serious side and a reunion line-up is unstoppable on this album. Fans of both newer and older Exodus are going to enjoy this album.
Songs to check out: Scar Spangled Banner, Blacklist, Impaler.