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Feast of violence - 71%

Felix 1666, April 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Do we really need to discuss whether musicians have the right to modify the style of their music? It is not forbidden by law and anything else is a matter of personal taste. There is only one small restriction. We, the fans, are the backbone of the scene and none of us started to listen to non-conform bands only to see how they get more and more commercial. Having said that, I do not see a reason to condemn Exodus for the songs on the here presented album. They do not exactly follow genuine thrash patterns, but they definitely cannot be blamed for sounding commercial. This does not mean that each and every track attracts my interest. The meaningless "As It Was, as It Soon Shall Be" is obviously written by Mr. No-Idea and Doc Superfluous and seems to be the late American answer to the terrible "The Nothing Song" (the name says it all) of Grinder, a German thrash battalion of the mid/late eighties. But some other tracks do not hesitate to crush your skull and they can rely on the extremely brutal production. This sound comes as no surprise, because Andy Sneap was responsible for the engineering and he is, from my point of view, the present grand master of thrash metal productions - together with Waldemar Sorychta, of course.

The violent mix emphasises the best moments of the songs. Its robotic precision, its cynical coldness and its contemptuous harshness offer the right surrounding for the bone-dry snare drum and the devastating belligerence of the guitars. The effective riffs of "Funeral Hymn", for instance, shine in full glory while benefitting from the brutal sound. Inter alia due to the ominous guitar work at its beginning and because of its interesting composition pattern, the song belongs to the brightest shining stars of the album. The following "Children of a Worthless God" is definitely no less exciting. Rob Dukes doesn't mince his words. "Follow us blindly or die like a dog / Blood mixed with sand for this holy war / Your savior' s a killer, you die for Allah / You are all children of a worthless God" - I really don't know whether the 72 virgins like this kind of lyrics, but Dukes seems to be of the opinion that subtle nuances are just irksome. Needless to say that he contributes to the infernal overall appearance in a prominent position. He has decided to play the part of the unfriendly asshole and he does it very convincingly. Honestly speaking, I am not surprised that he fully identifies with this role.

Leaving these great pieces out of account, I am sorry to inform you that the remaining tracks cannot cause the same impact. The title track, for example, is a good song, but why was it necessary to design it with a length of more than ten minutes? Apart from its excessive configuration, it provides triumphant riffing after 7:40 minutes. The guitar emerges from the brutal chaos and scores with sharp and dynamic catchiness. A brilliant part, but unfortunately embedded in a less excellent song. "The Garden of Bleeding" also cannot claim a top position in the ranking of the band's elaborations. It comes as the epitome of sonic gruffness, no more, no less. Anyway, it makes no sense to browse through each and every song. I have already mentioned the nadir of the album in the first and its highlights in the second paragraph. All other tracks have their moments while lacking from excessiveness or suffering from a mild form of compositional inability. The band is not able to exploit its strengths in a completely convincing manner. No doubt, their debut will remain unrivalled eternally, but the here presented exhibition with its fairly modern grasp of thrash shows a slightly worrying performance level.