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It's A Shame, It's A Goddamned Shame - 70%

Twisted_Psychology, May 18th, 2010

The fifth and final album released before Exodus' first disbandment is frequently seen as being one of the band's most unusual releases. It features the band going into many different directions with predictably varying degrees of success. This was also the last album to feature drummer John Tempesta as well as the only album to feature Jetboy bassist MIke Butler.

In terms of both music and style, this album may very well be one of the most confused ever released by a thrash metal band. The songwriting style of the past pops up a lot with several tracks featuring elaborate structures and sometimes excessive choruses, but the album spends a lot of time experimenting with a bunch of different sub-genres. Driving numbers such as "Thorn In My Side" and "When It Rains It Pours" make up a good chunk of the songs on here but you've also got several mid-tempo tracks ("Force of Habit," "One Foot In The Grave," "Climb Before the Fall"), borderline progressive numbers ("Fuel For The Fire," "Count Your Blessings"), a Southern flavored tune ("A Good Day To Die"), doom metal ("Architect of Pain"), and an old school thrasher in the vein of "Deranged" ("Feeding Time At The Zoo").

As much as it goes against everything Exodus has stood for, I think "Architect Of Pain" is the best song on here and perhaps the greatest Exodus has ever written. The track is full of building riffs, a strong vocal performance, an awe inspiring chorus, and a nice tempo change at the end to keep things interesting. I also have a soft spot for "Thorn In My Side" but also enjoy "Climb Before The Fall" for its solid grooves and "When It Rains It Pours" for its bombarding hooks.

Of course, there are a few tracks that are rather questionable. Like "Fabulous Disaster" before it, the cover songs on here stand out in the worst ways possible. They're generally out of place in terms of genre and make even less sense than "Low Rider!" A few originals also don't catch on with "Fuel For The Fire" taking a little too much time to build its atmosphere and a few groove-oriented tracks sounding rather similar to one another...

As with any other Exodus album, the lyrics are pretty noteworthy in their extensive topics and mixed feelings. To start things off, forget about the violence that made older Exodus songs as fun as they were. While there are a few songs relating to sadism and war, most of the lyrics touch on personal/realistic issues. Unfortunately the band doesn't go about this the right way and songs such as "Count Your Blessings" end up sounding preachy and condescending. Fortunately, there is still some sense of fun on some tunes such as "When It Rains It Pours" and the completely ridiculous "Feeding Time At The Zoo."

With everything else to take into consideration, the band itself manages to do a decent enough job. The guitar playing isn't quite as strong as on past efforts but the bass does manage to stand out more than the last one. Zetro's vocals also manage to be even goofier than before though he does pull out a cool sounding croon during the verses of "A Good Day To Die." If only they could've found a way to use it more often...

All in all, this album is a strange mixed bag that is rather hard to recommend to old and new listeners alike. I like it enough and there are some cool songs on here, but the more experimental moments do make it an acquired taste. And as "Architect Of Pain" plays on my stereo, I can't help but wonder how cool it'd be if Gary Holt got Zetro back and started work on a doom metal project. I can dream, can't I?

My Current Favorites:
"Thorn In My Side," "Me Myself & I," "Climb Before the Fall," "Architect of Pain," and "When It Rains It Pours"