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Too looong - 72%

Felix 1666, May 5th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Slipcase)

Some musicians say that it is more difficult to write a simple rocker than to pen a complex number. I don't know whether they are right. Yet it cannot be denied that Exodus would have been well advised to tackle less excessive song structures than those that characterise the overall picture of the second part of their exhibition. I admit that it would be too imprecise to say that the band is running out of ideas. The album is based on a certain number of gripping songs, but a lot of pieces lack of compactness and concision. The tunes offer many playgrounds for Holt and Altus to celebrate their skills and they do it without showing any signs of tiredness. Nevertheless, the total result does not make my heart beat faster. Under such circumstances, it is an ironic twist of fate that exactly one of the slowest pieces increases my heart rate.

"Nanking" - the name of the Chinese city is one of the synonyms for the horrors of the world wide crimes against humanity during the middle of the last century. Historians tell us that 200.000 civilians and prisoners of war were killed by the Japanese invaders. Only a German merchant, John Rabe, offered a place of refuge for a few hundred civilians. Today a monument in Nanking remembers his name and it seems that he was a good Nazi. Yes, the combination of these two words may sound strange, but I also know some people that speak of strong Avantasia albums. This is totally unbelievable as well. Anyway, Exodus capture the atmosphere of absolute atrocity in an excellent manner and Dukes delivers his best vocal performance ever. His voice reflects desperation, bewilderment and scorn in a terrific manner. A filigree guitar line meets devastating riffs, the slow drums underline the hopeless situation of the victims and the song constantly grows: the stomping verses lead to the dramatic bridge and the brilliant chorus mirrors the bestiality of the occupiers. A shiver runs down my spine whenever I listen to this metallic history lesson.

However, it goes without saying that Exodus have penned some fast-paced bullets as well. Especially the first half of the album is equipped with rapidly beating drums that accompany fascinating riffs. Built on this fundament, outbursts of hate like the opener or "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)" demonstrate the power of the formation that seemingly doesn't intend to retire. These explosive numbers are meticulously constructed, no doubt about it. Yet they are a little bit too long. Monumental patterns and straight thrash metal are not the closest friends and excessive instrumental parts do not always increase the degree of intensity. But don't get me wrong, the agility and the drive of Holt's violent clique achieve a formidable level. Even slightly less rabid pieces like "Downfall" hit the bull's eye. Too bad that the co-founders of thrash have passed their zenith after the seventh track, the aforementioned "Nanking". Perhaps they would haven been well advised to concentrate on the creation of an album with a playtime of 40 minutes instead of striving for the construction of an acoustic monster.

The further pieces commute between comparatively exciting and fairly boring. Some gruesome moments are also included. The bridge of "Democide", for instance, suffers from one of the weakest vocal lines in the history of Exodus. Yet quite apart from the details, these songs are somewhat exhausting. Some good riffs meet partially excessive song structures and get lost in these patterns. No, the tunes don't suffer from labyrinthine configurations. Nevertheless, a clear leitmotif is not identifiable. Accordingly, the transparent and very harsh production of "Exhibit B" is the most outstanding characteristic of these pieces. Yet surprisingly, this doesn't apply for the final track. "Devil's Teeth" is no hidden diamond, but it brings the overlong album to a good conclusion.

Exodus Dismissed (A Suck Primer). - 35%

Diamhea, February 7th, 2014

I find myself appalled by the mere fact that modern Exodus has such a sizable following. What, honestly, has the band done since Tempo of the Damned? Shovel Headed Kill Machine is an annoyingly overproduced showcase of Holt's (admittedly rock-solid) modern riff theatrics surrounded by a skeleton crew of a band that might as well exist as programmed Guitar Pro tracks. The sad thing is that the band's 2005 effort continues to grow in appeal as Exodus feels the need to release pretentious odes to misdirection such as Exhibit B: The Human Condition, finding new and more distressing ways to defecate on their legacy.

On a strictly musical level, Exodus never embodied anything more than a generic, slightly heavier exhibition of West Coast thrash aesthetics. The band's wise and timely procurement of charismatic frontmen like Baloff and Souza became their true appeal, if only due to a lack of convincing performances elsewhere. So it should come as no surprise that the stigmatized presence of Dukes on this album immediately throws a number of red flags that should send most with reasonable taste running right off the bat. The indifference of his approach immediately puts an astronomical amount of pressure on the guitars to deliver the goods. Holt's characteristic, mid-paced patterns of dissonant crunch have a fairly potent disposition, but can't hope to carry Exhibit B: The Human Condition all on their own. Their tone is similar to the boomy sonic palette present on Shovel Headed Kill Machine, but the guitars are slightly less prominent in the mix. This approach yields decent returns during some of Holt's more measured riffing passages, but I can't help but feel that these guitars would sound more at home on a modern death metal album as opposed to a freakin' Exodus release.

The album immediately crumbles under the weight of it's own pretension as all but three of it's songs are at least twice as long as they need to be. Exodus needs to realize that epic qualities embody more than just protracted song length, usually manifesting themselves as more subdued hints and traces at honed excess. It should come as no shock that the more succinct numbers like "Hammer and Life" and "Burn, Hollywood, Burn" are two of the very few highlights present here. "The Sun Is My Destroyer" is also passable even if criminally overlong. The held-out, destructive open notes remind me of the chorus of "Deathamphetamine", one of the more structured cookers from Shovel Headed Kill Machine. Most of the material here actually features promising isolated moments that are repeatedly kneecapped by either pedestrian compositions, Dukes insipid ranting, or both. The closer "Good Riddance" suffers in this regard, featuring the most spirited tempo that embodies the most earnest individual attempt at breaking out of the mid-paced doldrums. Dukes manages to seal it's fate as yet another misdirected outpouring of angst, which ends up clashing stylistically with the esoteric keyboards and acoustic textures that fade out as the album finally ends.

The band attempts to tackle a number of interesting topics like atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Sino-Japanese War of the late-'30s along with more recent school massacres. Sadly, nothing can make much of it's desired cerebral impact once transposed through Dukes' lame intonation. The lyrics are delivered in such a generic, angsty, and stereotypically abrasive way that they completely neuter themselves before anything has a chance to stick.

Exhibit B: The Human Condition's mighty flaws overshadow Hunting's continued dominance on the kit, which becomes something of an afterthought even if he is defying age and improving from album to album. He rivals Lipnicki from Overkill in both creativity and pure reckless abandon when it comes to the basic thrash patterns. The lightning fast dribbling of the double-bass on "Good Riddance" forces the rest of the band to keep up while subsequently delivering the most vigorous cut here. Gibson's overdriven bass is prominent, making it's biggest impact during the intro of "A Perpetual State of Indifference". It gets washed over in the mix once the rest of the band slides into their respective comfort zones, but it remains a solid compositional decision on Exodus' part that they should continue to experiment with.

The lack of melodic appeal serves as the final nail in Exhibit B: The Human Condition's coffin, the blow of the final hammer strike initializing it's descent into a hell reserved for only the most offensive of albums. The amount of talent being squandered here is almost unprecedented, as Exodus' modern lineup should have no problems delivering modern odes to a throwback state of mind that appears to be too elusive to recapture with Dukes at the helm. It doesn't have to end like this, hopefully Holt can find a more suitable voice to coexist with his unique playing style. Dukes just has to go, period.

Excessive - 25%

zeingard, December 3rd, 2012

The current incarnation of modern day Exodus with Rob Dukes as a frontman has not been warmly received and with 'Exhibit B: The Human Condition' this trend is only further reinforced. It's important to note that Exodus' inability to write a decent album is not Dukes' fault, and that his incredibly bland barking vocals make him an easy scapegoat to criticise a band that has been famous for having iconic frontmen previously.

The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of guitarists Holt and Altus for once again writing a slew of uninspired riffs that inhabit an awkward grey area between adequate 'The Law' emulation and reprehensible 'Ashes of the Wake' pandering. "March of the Sycophants" is a prime example of the former, with a rather bouncy verse riff complimented by a couple of fast but chunky riffs to help maintain momentum despite being almost seven minutes long.

Unfortunately the rest of the tracks either match or exceed this length but without the competent songwriting to keep them interesting. Every song exceeding five minutes could do without two or three of those minutes and it would greatly enhance the album. Exodus take what few good riffs they've written and drive them into the ground until you're either sick of them or they've lost all impact. When they aren't repeating themselves they shamefully draw out standard song structures with anaemic bridges, irrelevant acoustic passages and generic breakdowns. "The Sun is My Destroyer" is a song with four riffs in nine minutes and features a pathetic attempt at emulating the dark, subdued narration from Nausea's "Body of Christ". There are no attempts at building towards a powerful riff or an amazing solo section; they just play verse-chorus for far too long and then paste in that asinine quiet passage in the middle.

The solo sections are the same in every song: one guy plays and then the other does. One of them is kind of messy and the other has a better grasp of melody. It's like listening to a bizarro version of King/Hanneman; everything they produce is completely ineffectual and uninteresting.

There's no reason that 'Exhibit B' should be 78 minutes and 31 seconds long, and it is baffling that Exodus think they can write long songs. They can't write lyrics either which only further exacerbates the album length when you're stuck listening to Dukes' barking out typical dickheaded atheist anti-christian sentiment or about how much people suck. It is a complete embarrassment and a group of seasoned musicians should be capable of far more. There is nothing of worth to be found and the only emotions it manages to elicit are contempt and pity.

Just fucking disband.

Exhibiting Exodus - 75%

harkwhistler, November 22nd, 2011

25 years of Exodus and we’re still Bonded by Blood, bang your head as if up from the dead, intense metal is all that you need!!

In comes Exodus’s sequel to their 2007 album The Atrocity Exhibition, Exhibit B: The Human Condition. This, like its prequel, is a concept album and incorporates the same elements like lengthy epic songs and theme-based songwriting about war and death as opposed to their traditional writing about violence and killing poseurs. What can be seen here is that as time progresses, so does production, much to the dismay of old school fans who still prefer the recording quality of the eighties; it is believed that it has got something to do with “staying true to your roots”. But the production does not take away the conventionality of the music as Gary Holt delivers riff after riff of pure thrashing ecstasy.

The album starts off with "The Ballad of Leonard and Charles" with quite a surprise element in the intro, given the acoustic guitars quite opposed to their “pedal to the floor” approach with lightning fast intros. It's one minute into the song before the distortion kicks in and the sheer joy of Rob Dukes' voice, this album being only his third with Exodus. The good old bashing and thrashing is what you find in the second song, "Beyond The Pale". The song has quite a few beautiful guitar licks and mind-bending soloing from both Holt and Lee. The line “I know not that which I’ve become Exhibit A in man’s atrocity” is pretty thought-provoking. The whole song is actually about murderers and the way they face the judicial system. "Hammer and Life", the third song, has made itself quite the anthem of the album, being released quite sometime ago as a single and lives up to the expectations of any thrash fan as a standard straightforward 3 minute song. "Class Dismissed", yet another epic track, stretches over 7 minutes and, man, didn’t these guys ever think it would be easier to write shorter songs. The quality of the riffs and vocals remains undiminished, however by this time the epicness of the songs seems to have become quite the cliche, bearing in mind the last album as well. "Downfall" begins with a melodic riff that reminds you of the band Mercenary somehow, but the solo takes the cake and is easily one of the best on the album. Five minutes into the track it gets groovier, the playing building up to the mad drumming that introduces you to the next track, "March Of The Sycophants". It's one of the songs on the album that you might want to skip, honestly, with nothing great to deliver. "Nanking", another lengthy track that follows, gets groovy at points for a saving grace, I must say. "Burn, Hollywood, Burn", the 8th track, makes a quick and exquisite impact with sensational abuses aimed directly at Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus (who in reality do form a part of mankind’s scum, at least in my opinion). It's a song that makes quite the strong point, making you sit up and think “now why didn’t anyone else say that?”. The song leads to "Democide" which has quite a Middle Eastern intro, but it's a damn monotonous song with not much to it. "The Sun Is My Destroyer", the 10th song, is the longest song on the album, stretching over nine minutes. Dukes sounds a little more aggressive than necessary. A real tester of patience this one, heh, sort of like too many riffs piled up to make a song. This is followed by "A Perpetual State Of Indifference", the shortest track and a relieving one too. This is an instrumental, after all Dukes does need a break after spewing out so much hatred and dismay for so long. "Good Riddance", the last track, is quite ironic in its name as well considering the impatient metal head who’s put himself through this album. That’s not me by the way, haha. The song is actually about the world ending with some catchy pentatonic wankery on this track and a beautiful acoustic outro that's very well-crafted with no better way to end the album.

The album overall has no stand out song really as Exodus seem to be lacking in the anthem bit somehow, although "Hammer and Life" seems to make the cut, yet it doesn’t quite make the same impact as, well, say "The Toxic Waltz" from the album Fabulous Disaster. It doesn’t define Exodus’s sound and definitely is not one of the songs that is likely to become a headbanger’s anthem. It's true that they’ve changed in line up as well as band sound, but the basic element of “giving you the kick” is missing, and the lengthy songs that stretch over 7 minutes do this bit no good either. The album is produced very well and every instrument sounds just as good as the person playing it. The guitar tone does sound a little crunchy at certain points, but doesn’t really give you reason to complain. All said and done, Exodus do live up to their standards and remain untouchable as ever as thrash gods, leaving behind a promise that they will stay so for a few more years to come, for sure.

I would like to dedicate this review to the memory of Paul Baloff, the late Exodus vocalist who was featured only on their first album, Bonded By Blood. May he rest in peace, for as beautiful as Dukes’ voice may be, his voice will echo for decades to come.

Waltz it up! - 90%

TheIntrepidWolf, September 23rd, 2011

Since Exodus came ‘off hiatus’ in 2004 to release Tempo Of The Damned with former singer Zetro, the band has gone from strength to strength with each additional release, utilizing the vocal talents of new frontman Rob Dukes for Shovel Headed Kill Machine and Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A and have written some of their most intense and aggressive songs to date. Exhibit B: The Human Condition follows that trend. In fact, this album is probably the band’s most grandiose effort to date. It’s the sound of a band doing things their way with opener ‘The Ballad Of Leonard & Charles’ being a massive brutal slab of thrash in the classic Exodus style. An acoustic intro gives way to vicious riffing from Gary Holt and Lee Althus. The guitars weave frantic harmonies, making this seven minute track seem to feel half the time and reeks of epic! In fact, epic is good way to describe the entire album. clocking in at 72 minutes long, this can be a testing listen if you're not familiar with the band.

The majority of the album is comprised of trademark Exodus thrash gallop with precision riffing from Holt and Althus, and tracks such as Beyond The Pale, Downfall and Burn Hollywood Burn reek of class, the latter being a Gary Holt penned tirade against reality TV and the wannabe celebrities it creates.

Elsewhere on Exhibit B the band shift the gears down a notch, most notable on Nanking which tells the story of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army upon the city of Nanking in 1937. Here the band drop into a slow menacing groove that grinds its way through the track.

Exodus have never been a band to be subtle and Exhibit B is a brutal as it is magnificent. Is it too long at 72 minutes? Admittedly, they could trim 20 minutes from the album and still have a classic on their hands! When all is said and done, Exhibit B: The Human Condition is one hell of a thrashfest from the undisputed kings of bay area thrash.

A Vast Improvement - 95%

Xodus6661, December 31st, 2010

Since Rob Dukes has joined Exodus their albums haven't been quite as good as in the past. Shovel Headed Killing Machine was an alright start for Dukes and following that with Exhibit A really wasn't a whole lot better. Let there be Blood was not a great idea by holt considering the fact the tracks were already legendary and having Paul Baloff on vocals is pretty much what helped make them legendary.

That brings us to Exhibit B. If your an exodus critic then the first thing you will probably realize is most songs on the album run from 6 to 7 minutes each. Most bands that release songs this long make them very drug out and boring. Each song though is unique in its own way and makes the time pass by very quickly. Songs consist of incredible riffs, fast drumming, and some of the best solos out there today. One thing that is very noticable that has improved alot is the production quality. All the songs on the album are produced very cleanly unlike Exhibit A.

The lyrical content of this album is fuckin sick. All songs are based of Gary Holt's view of what humans are like and the sick creatures that we are. Songs go from serial killers, school shootings, the rape of Nanking, and America's shitty government leaders and economy. The songs open up your mind and make you thing about how brutal of creatures humans really are.

Robs vocals have drastically improved from Exhibit A. It seems with every new album release Robs vocals continue to get better. In SHKM they were way to raspy sounding and with Exhibit A he cleaned them up a bit but they still weren't perfect. With this release he has found his perfect balance of a tad bit of rasp but most of his vocals are really clean and brutal.

Overall this album is a vast improvement from the past view releases from the almighty Exodus. This is definitely a album worth picking up in stores and anyone that has the chance to go see them on tour should go. Don't pass up the chance. Exodus has been Thrashing hard for 30 years and haven't let up a bit. I recommend this album to anyone that is a die hard thrash fan or is just in the mood to head bang and toxic waltz a little bit.

All I Ever Wanted Was A Little Affection - 86%

Twisted_Psychology, June 12th, 2010

Ever since the CD first came into wide use, bands have been going to great lengths to ensure that the 80 minutes on each disc would be occupied accordingly. Of course, metal has not escaped this trend with bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica readily providing a great deal of material with each release. Exodus seems to have also joined in the trend in recent years with this being their longest album to date. It is also the first album of theirs to get on the Billboard and the first to not feature a single line-up change since 1989's "Fabulous Disaster."

Predictably, not much has changed since "Exhibit A" came out in 2007. The guitars continue to go between chunky riffs and upbeat grooves, the drums are packed with intensity, the bass manages to stand out a number of times, and the vocals are largely executed in that hardcore-influenced snarl that still continues to divide listeners everywhere. Fortunately the experimental flourishes that popped up on the previous album are still used to varying effects. Vocalist Rob Dukes in particular adds some dimensions to his approach as several tracks showcase a more restrained delivery and a few slower tracks bring about more melodic touches/effects.

The songwriting also hasn't changed much as guitarist/bandleader Gary Holt continues to pack his songs with longer durations and elaborate structures, but it is fairly safe to say that no two songs manage to sound alike with the different styles present. In addition to the numerous thrashers that appear on here, you've got a few mid-tempo tracks ("Nanking," "Democide"), a few death metal flirtations ("Downfall," "The Sun Is My Destroyer"), a pretty upbeat song ("Hammer And Life"), and a nifty instrumental towards the end ("A Perpetual State Of Indifference"). The thrashers such as "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)" and "March Of The Sycophants" may be some of my favorite tracks on the album, but I do think that most of the other songs are nicely executed. "Nanking" and "Democide" mange to stand out in particular for their slower tempos and previously mentioned vocal experimentation.

As expected, the lyrics all seem to deal with a common theme and tend to revolve around the various ways that mankind is slowly killing itself. You've got murder ("The Ballad of Leonard and Charles," "Beyond The Pale," "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)"), war ("Downfall," "Nanking," "Democide"), jabs at celebrities and political figures ("March of the Sycophants," "Burn, Hollywood, Burn"), the occult ("The Sun Is My Destroyer"), general cynicism ("Good Riddance"), and a nice tribute to Paul Baloff in the form of "Hammer And Life." There's nothing really new here but it does fit the musical content...

But like the album before it, this album's biggest flaw still revolves around its lengths. As many other reviewers have suggested, several songs on here could stand to be shorter and trimmed of some unnecessary content. I feel that "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)" in particular would've been a classic if a minute or so was chopped off. But oddly enough, I also think there are a few songs on here that should've been made longer. "Hammer And Life" in particular could stand to either save its solo section for last or have an extra verse thrown in. In the worst case scenario, a little verse repetition never hurt anybody!

Personally, I think this is a pretty decent album and place it on equal terms as "Exhibit A" in the overall Exodus discography. I think the lovers and haters are both justified in their claims, but the solid songs do manage to satisfy for the most part. Whatever your take on the last few albums, I think we can all agree that a simpler, stripped down approach would be the best way to follow up these ambitions.

My Current Favorites:
"Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)," "Downfall," "March Of The Sycophants," "Nanking," and "Democide"

Exodus 2010: Reinvigorated and Re-energized! - 86%

Agonymph, June 3rd, 2010

Even though Lee Altus told me in an interview that this album would show a slightly more melodic side of Exodus, I didn't have my hopes up too high about it. Especially because Exodus has been showing signs of decline ever since the 'Tempo Of The Damned' lineup fell apart. This album's direct predecessor, 'The Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A', showed a capable band that seemed bored with its own style, good enough out to still blast out a couple of killer tunes ('Children Of A Worthless God' and the title track), but the material was mainly morose and overlong.

Now, there is 'Exhibit B: The Human Condition'. Upon first sight, you'd think the album would suffer from the same problems as its predecessor: the record is extremely long for a Thrash album (almost 80 minutes if you own the limited edition, slightly under 75 otherwise), the songs themselves are relatively long and Gary Holt - who seems to have an obsession with modern and brutal riffs for the sake of being modern and brutal lately - is still the main songwriter. However, 'Exhibit B' is light years ahead of 'Exhibit A'. I didn't actually realize upon first listen, possibly fueled by the bias developed by previous albums, but this album seems to show an Exodus that is more spontaneous, less focused on being "en vogue", more comfortable with the style they're playing and - foremost - better.

Singer Rob Dukes has been a major source of criticism for a majority of Exodus' fan base these last few years and although his stage persona can really irritate me to the point of not being able to enjoy the show any longer, he's not a bad vocalist at all. Okay, he's no Zetro or Paul Baloff, but he's most definitely a singer in the same vein of his illustrous predecessors and he fits Exodus' style very well. In fact, he seems to have improved on this album. It could be a simple productional change of direction, but he is more versatile and powerful on 'Exhibit B' than he's been on the previous two albums. Especially on the verses of the eastern tinged, yet brutal 'Nanking', where he layered a low, clean vocal line on top of his typical raw vocals, he sounds surprisingly good.

What Exodus does well on this album - much better than on 'Exhibit A' really - is accompanying the long tracks with shorter bursts of energy. Ironically, it's mainly the shorter tracks that aren't all that impressive though. 'Burn Hollywood Burn' is cool, but 'Hammer And Life', for instance, isn't a bad song at all, but it's a bit plain. And I'm almost positive that I've heard them doing that main riff before, which makes sense, because latter day Exodus hasn't exactly been renowned for the variation of their material. However, the amount of variation on 'Exhibit B' is surprisingly high, which causes the album to remain interesting for most of its 80 minutes.

Highlights include the amazing 'Beyond The Pale', which - at least to me - seemed much shorter than it's actual seven and a half minutes, the aforementioned 'Nanking' and 'The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles', the best "ballad" to ever open an album, just check out that killer chorus! The hyper-melodic - at least for Exodus measures - 'Downfall' will probably cause a lot of controversy, but I actually like the song a lot. It's refreshing to hear Exodus like this. The breakdown in the middle of the song isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I have to admit that one of the first things I'd do if I ever become a politician is to make a law that prohibits any breakdowns in Metal songs.

While paying attention to all the individual musicians, the first thing I notice that Tom Hunting's drumming is nothing short of spectacular on this album. It really stands out, moreso than on 'Exhibit A' or even 'Tempo Of The Damned'. His double bass work and all those little fills in the faster songs is something a lot of younger musicians should make notes of. Of course Gary Holt and Lee Altus are amazing in both the riffing and the solo department, but honestly, would you have expected any less? More remarkable is that Jack Gibson finally gets the room to prove he is in fact a good bass player. It's not like he solos all over the place, but if you listen to the album, you'll notice he's much more "there" than on any of his previous effords with Exodus.

Now, with an album this long, it's tempting to say that it would have been better if fiteen to twenty minutes would have been cut off and although there is certainly some truth in that statement in this case, it's not as bad as I would have expected in the first place. Had I been given the producer's role for this album, which thankfully for the band isn't the case, I would have made some slight changes in the songs. I would definitely have cut off at least two minutes of the middle section to the otherwise awesome 'The Sun Is My Destroyer', possibly a little of the ending as well. In addition, I think 'Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)', though a nice and fierce thrasher, would have been even better if it was about a minute and a half shorter. That doesn't even come close to fifteen minutes though. And I'm impressed by the fact that when 'March Of The Sycophants' appears to drag on too much, Gary Holt comes up with a killer riff that totally injects new energy into the song.

Even for the previous albums, I would have said that you can hear a strong sense of musical craftmanship from the legendary Bay Area band. This time, however, Exodus mixes that with a new found strength and entusiasm in the songwriting department on 'Exhibit B: The Human Condition'. I never really thought the band had totally lost it, because even during their "down time", Gary Holt came up with a brilliant song like 'Deathamphetamine' or 'Karma's Messenger', but there's a lot more to enjoy on 'Exhibit B' than just two or three songs that stand out. In fact, I seldom listen to less than the complete album. And I think that if you give this album a chance to grow on you, it won't be any different for you.

Welcome back, Gary Holt. And Lee Altus... I have a gut feeling I have to thank you for bringing him back, considering the genius shown on the new Heathen album 'The Evolution Of Chaos'. Whatever the reason, it's glad to have Exodus back!

Some killer, some filler - 65%

Death_Thrasher, May 18th, 2010

I had relatively high hopes for Exodus' 9th proper full length. I thought 'Exhibit A' was a great modern thrash album, with plenty of variety and only one weak song ('The Garden of Bleeding'). Sadly, I feel Gary Holt and crew have failed to match their previous album, and for all the wrong reasons at that. As you can tell from the score, I do not think this is a bad album. I do however feel, with a little fine-tuning, this could have been one of the albums of 2010.

First of all, it is far too long. 'Exhibit B: The Human Condition' is about an hour and a quarter in length, and while this is not a fault in itself ('Exhibit A' was just over an hour and kept me thrilled for most of that time), there is clearly filler here. If the band had trimmed away the flab, we'd have a cracking album on our hands.

So, what is the 'flab' I'm referring to? Well, for starters, 'Class Dismissed' and 'Hammer and Life' both suffer considerably due to Rob Dukes' vocals. I've always defended the man, as I think he has improved on each album, steadily finding his own signature style, and this is largely the case on 'Exhibit B'. However, on the two aforementioned tracks, he is boring and monotonous, lacking the vicious energy he displays elsewhere. This pretty much kills the otherwise decent songs, as no amount of violent riffing (and there is plenty!) can make any impact without an equally violent vocal performance. Another notable weakness in some of the tracks is excessive melody, with 'Downfall' in particular sounding like a melodeath song. Melody is used classily elsewhere (e.g. 'Beyond the Pale', 'Nanking'), but on this track it is slightly too epic and heroic-sounding for my liking.

As I said before though, this is not a bad album. Far from it. 'The Ballad of Leonard and Charles' makes for a crushing introduction, while 'The Sun is My Destroyer' and 'Good Riddance' bring the album to an equally devastating finish, the former featuring some decent vocal contributions from Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy. 'Burn Hollywood Burn' has the classic Exodus blend of furious riffs and humorous lyrics, while 'Nanking' has an almost 'Seasons in the Abyss'-like atmosphere of crawling menace about it. Limited bonus track 'Devil's Teeth' is also great, a short sharp blast that gets to the point quicker than most of the other songs.

If you add together the great songs from this CD, you get around 45 minutes of rock-solid modern thrash, surely enough material to make up an album? Exodus have made the same mistake Venom have been making for years, that of releasing a full CD of music simply because they can. If 'Exhibit B' had been limited to the constraints of vinyl, perhaps we'd have a classic album here. As it stands, this is a good album, but you will have to sift your way through the weaker material to get to the truly great moments. Let's hope they play the right tracks live.

Exhibit B: For Boredom - 50%

autothrall, May 12th, 2010

Now that they've finished raping their own past with the ill-received Let There Be Blood re-recordings, Exodus have put a lot of work into this 9th studio effort, the sequel to 2007's mediocre offering The Atrocity Exhibition...Exhibit A. There are well over 70 minutes of music here, which makes it the longest studio album by far, but the question is, does it offer enough incentive to carry its bloated weight? Of course it doesn't. If we were to carve off about 40-50 minutes of this experience, we might end up with something bordering on an average effort, at least at the level of a Tempo of the Damned or Impact is Imminent. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. However, the majority of Exhibit B consists of fluff that just don't pack a hard enough to remain imprinted in the conscience of the listener.

I've gone on at length in the past about how I'm not a huge fan of Rob Dukes' vocals, but I will hand it to the man: in some of the songs, he does his best here to really 'fit' the Exodus mold, with a snarling performance that comes closer to the Baloff and Zetro years than either the meek Shovel Headed Kill Machine or the direct predecessor to this album. In others, he sounds like a gelded version of Phil Anselmo. He doesn't have the level of wild abandon that made his two predecessors so valuable, but he also doesn't stink this record up. In fact, nothing really 'stinks it up'. It smells all rosy. It's long, dull, and lacking much in the way of character and compelling riffs, aside from the bare fact of its existence. Sure, what transpires is indeed thrash metal, and you can bang your head to with nothing better to do. But the days of sweating with anticipation until you can next spin "A Lesson in Violence" or "Brain Dead" are long behind us now. Exhibit B is a product that meets the bare minimum of expectations, but strives at nothing more, except its own, nearly 80 minutes of penis enlargement.

So where are the good riffs? They tend to occur in the beginning of most songs on this album. And that's that! "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)", "March of the Sycophants" and "The Sun is My Destroyer" all feature promising initial guitar onslaughts that become stretched thin and pummeled into oblivion when there is nothing surprising or exciting around any corner ahead of them. Technically the band are on fire, with a solid battering from drummer Tom Hunting and the ever presence, crunch tone of Gary Holt and his latest six-string co-conspirator Lee Altus (ex-Heathen, Angel Witch). "Downfall" is perhaps a little too melodic and glorious for Exodus, and in fact it sounds like a melodeath band, until the thrashing of the bridge ensues, much like any other Exodus song in your memory since the first two records. Tracks like "Hammer and Life" and "Nanking" really just suffer from their excess length. You get about 2-3 minutes of what I'd deem quality, and then a lot of filler that would be better used to rip out a classic in a live set. There are a lot of weak, but not entirely tasteless Panterisms (i.e. very boring, familiar tough guy rock grooves) ridden through the album, but this is not a huge surprise, as they've also appeared on the past few, and the band at least mixes them into the thrashing carapace of the record.

There are a LOT of songs here. After listening through the album five or six times, I felt no magnetism towards any of them. There are several riffs that, if placed in better compositions, might bring back the level of limited excitement once felt about Fabulous Disaster or Impact is Imminent. But as they stand, I will probably never go back to listen to them, unless I stumble across them at a live gig. And that's all to be said for Exhibition B: The Human Condition. It's a swollen mediocrity, and represents the further kicking of the long dead horse that once won all the county races. In order to prevent midlife crisis after hearing this, please spin Bonded by Blood at maximum volumes, then consume a glass of cold water and your depression pill of choice.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Great riffs, but also fillers and Dukes, still... - 50%

morbert, May 11th, 2010

Well, at first glance, Exhibit B seems over long for a thrash metal album. Once again. Who on earth decided for a lot of old eighties bands it would be good to record lengthy albums with a lot of long songs in the 21st century?!? Maiden are suffering from it, immensely, Metallica idem. Sometimes it feels like it’s up to the Slayers and Kreator of this world to keep the essence of ‘song’ writing alive. Fortunately this album isn’t only about long songs. Now let’s pick out a few.

‘The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles’ might come of as another S.O.D. joke but in fact it’s a 7 minute thrash epic. The lyrical content being extremely suitable for thrash (even more for Macabre obviously, but still). The song is pretty enjoyable, the pace and riffs on the regular verses and chorus that is. The stretched mid paced middle section however is were we get annoyed for the first time. Chugging semi-riffs, godawful bad boy vocals (even some blackish scream after a while, pretty bad) and tapping you finger while waiting for a solo to finally take over. So in fact not quite an epic but a sweet thrasher with an obsolete middle section. A missed opportunity really and I still find Dukes boring as hell.

We could say the same about ‘Beyond The Pale’. Half good, half bad. Some decent riffs but this time it’s a pretty bad chorus fucking up the song. A chorus which has more in common with nineties Megadeth making it sound like a Force Of Habit leftover but not a good one. The vocals once again add nothing, I said nothing, to the composition and by now I start thinking and imagining what Zetro would do if he had to come up with vocal lines for this song. Dear me, I miss a vocalist who really adds something to Exodus’ mighty riffs. Talking of Megadeth sounds, check out Lee Altus’ lead (the second one). Sounds more like ‘Deth than Exodus. Pretty sweet but the wrong atmosphere for me.

‘Hammer Of life’, apart from the vocals, is the first song which is decent from start to finish. It has a nice slow feeling to it, mixing ‘Toxic Waltz‘ with the slow Force of Habit approach. But I have to stress, the song is decent, not good. But slow isn’t always easy. ‘Nanking’ has strong lyrics. But the music just drags on and there are no real melodies or catchy vocal lines to keep this song interesting. Another song being decent from start to finish is the short (?) ‘Burn, Hollywood, Burn’

Talking about great mid paced riffs and Holt’s brilliance, please listen to the verse of ‘March Of The Sycophants’. Now this riff could’ve been on any, I stress any, Exodus album and still be a great riff. The fact that the chorus sounds more like Soulfly / Cavalera Conspiracy doesn’t change that. Actually I even like the chorus! In fact ‘March Of The Sycophants’ is easily the best song on Exhibit B.

I do not know exactly what is wrong with Exodus on this record, apart from the vocals. But it feels like Holt can still magically make great riffs appear but seems to have lost his gift to shape everything into (great) songs. Another example is ‘Class Dismissed’. Some really brilliant riffs and a nice over all pace. But why on earth does Dukes sounds like Fred Durst trying to sing a Zetro line with Hetfield diction?!? And why do I have to sit through another dull mid pace middle section again just like on the first two songs? Riddle me this… The ‘Show no mercy…’ chorus on ‘Democide’ is an even worse vocal line. And why does he start to half-grunt in horrible nineties Chuck Billy fashion on ‘The Sun Is My Destroyer’?

No, I don’t know why I keep bothering with Exodus anymore as long as they have this vocalist but for some reason I do. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be missing out on new Holt riffs. Exhibit B takes Exodus back to the level of Shovel Headed Kill Machine, making us partially forget the Exhibit A- Let There Be Blood period. But as long as they don’t have a decent vocalist, they will never do credit to their legacy.

Exhibit B features enough great riffs and ideas to have led to a great 40 minute Exodus album (with another vocalist). But in this form a lot of uninteresting stuff is happening as well and with Dukes on vocals no song gets that extra touch or dimension. Exodus just don’t come to fruition anymore. Had ‘The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles’, ‘Beyond The Pale’ and ‘Class Dismissed’ be stripped from those tedious mid paced middle sections, they would’ve been a great addition to the list of good Exodus songs. For now only ‘March Of The Sycophants’ is they only really good song here.

The EXODUS continues... - 80%

doomknocker, May 10th, 2010

Like (I hope) many others in the metal world I took to the second coming of EXODUS with a delighted smile; I’d always felt sympathy for these Bay Area thrash monsters getting such a bum rap lo these plentiful years. After all, these were the fellas who created thrash metal pretty much single-handedly, but weren’t able to live up to the stratospheric expectations brought forth by the pop-star ambitions of METALLICA, the drug-fueled insanity of MEGADETH, the Satanic war-faring of SLAYER and the left-field rumblings of ANTHRAX (to name-check those nasty Big Four noise-mongers). Not that they didn’t put out quality albums (they did, of course)…but once a new generation partook in the majesty of “Tempo of the Damned” all that eluded them some 20 years before began falling into place and all that was Gary Holt-led became the toast of the town.

Which leads us to this…

Despite starting in some strange and new territory, at least for these guys, via an acoustic ballad/string interlude, things get right down to riff-heavy, chaotic business. That which has made EXODUS the true shovel-headed kill machine from the 80s to now is in full ignition, the balls-to-the-wall madness of old coupled with the melodic abandon of modern day. This time around, song lengths are extended further than previously before, encompassing successfully counteracting ideas, where melody rubs elbows with causticity like paint strokes on the thrash canvas, say, for example, a less mind-fucky “Divine Intervention” meeting the more monstrous ends of “Enemy of God”. Savage guitar strangulation, pounding percussion abuse, and sinister shrieks let loose torrents of insanity-inducing violence the likes of which only so few bands are able to evoke with such a natural essence and ability. Even the longer song lengths are barely noticeable, at least, on this listener’s end; you get so wrapped up in the overall scheme of things that once the song is near its end you really don’t even notice. This is shown brightest with the likes of “Beyond the Pale”, “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”, and “March of the Sycophants”, giving any and all willing to partake more metal than they can swing a denim jacket at.

In the end EXODUS once again continue to kick ass and take names. It’s a damn shame that these guys didn’t get their just desserts many a year ago, but this just goes to show that good things truly do come for those who wait. Keep it up, guys.