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Underrated and Vicious - 95%

corviderrant, December 19th, 2008

I didn't much care for "Fabulous Disaster" after a while, as it seemed Exodus were losing their edge in favor of acceptability on (E)M(P)TV. I am glad to say that this album proved me wrong when it came out! While they were indeed slowing it down noticeably in the tempo department, the edge and aggression were still there and then some, and the attitude was there in spades. I can't see why some people pan this album simply due to the fact it's not "Bonded by Blood" part zillion, and as for the slower riffs, hello! The title track of "BBB" had its slower parts, most notably the chorus, so what's the deal with criticizing this album for that element? Let me elaborate on why this was the last really good album Exodus released until they got it back together with "Tempo of the Damned".

The title track kicks things (in the nuts) off with a concentrated and controlled blast of anger focusing in the idiocy of driving drunk a la M.O.D.'s "Accident Scene", but more serious and with even better playing. As per usual, the H-Team scatters riff shrapnel every which way with an amazing guitar tone (in fact, this whole album was impeccably produced by them) and their customary amazing lead breaks. This is thrash, but it's controlled speed that comes off as effective since the band is tight, together, and more powerful for it.

"A.W.O.L." is a more mid tempo number, as are the likes of "Lunatic Parade" and "Only Death Decides", as well as "Within The Walls of Chaos" (where Zetro attempts a more melodic vocal approach on the choruses) , but as opposed to seeming stodgy, these tunes bristle with teeth and aggression. "Only Death Decides" has some especially nasty lead work, and while "Lunatic Parade" does indeed nick the riff from "March of the S.O.D.", it does so with deadly intent, and even Rob McKillop gets in on it with a growling bass break at the end of the solo section. "Objection Overruled" has some amusing lyrics (Exodus have always been good for some really scathing lyrical fare) and while it is probably the slowest and most melodic song on the album, it still packs a ten ton punch. Listen closely at the end of this one for some hilarious studio bantering between Rick and Gary!

New boy at the time, John Tempesta, puts in a solid and tasteful drum performance on this album in general, his more grounded style working well with the more groove-oriented elements introduced on this album (more so than on "Fabulous Disaster"), and the cracking drum sound really enhances this. Yes, I said "groove". Normally I feel that groove and metal are two mutually exclusive things, especially with the surfeit of crappy bands out there using the excuse of being a "groove-oriented" band to make up for their lack of creativity and musical ability. In other words, they can't play a solo worth a damn and knock other bands for doing so; Exodus took the groove thing and made it work alongside their usual potent musical chops, melding their thrash mania roots with a more structured approach and still retaining everything that made them special on this album.

The only issue I have with Exodus on this album (most of the time, in fact) is that their choruses are three times as long as their verses! This is unfortunately a trait they've become known for, and while I find it irritating, I can handle it when an album this good comes down the pike and stuffs its fist down my throat with such authority. Which it did at the time it was released--in fact, I wrote this entire review from memory of this album--and it still stands tall and strong, and proudly in my metal collection. I stand behind this album more or less totally.