Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out
Release Date: October 14, 2014
It’s interesting to observe in retrospect just how far the then up and coming, incipient bands of the early 80’s would go with the sole aim of being heavier than Venom. The incursion of the blasphemous humorists from Newcastle changed the face of metal forever with their tongue-in-cheek, Satanic imagery and black comedy; in turn spawning a legion of worshipers that would themselves achieve great heights. Exodus is one of these bands that pushed the boundaries established by the likes of their primary influences – the evil Venom and the more speed-driven yet simplistic delirium of the mighty Motörhead and Tank, used them as their fuel and made something to call their own.
Now looking at the shelf life of Exodus, these gents have been around forever and started life as one of the Big 5 of the Bay Area thrash invasion of the early 80’s along with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Their early releases were classics and seminal reference points within the genre. The recently parted ways with Rob Dukes, their frontman since Shovel Headed Kill Machine, and brought back Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza. What concerned me about this was the fact that this appeared to have happened in such a short period of time. Somewhere at the back of my head, I was thinking about how this could affect the album. Now, Zetro is not new to Exodus. He has been around for a while, lending his voice to records like Pleasures of the Flesh during the mid-80’s, and was around until he was ousted from the band in ’04. But it has been 10 years, and let’s not forget that Gary Holt has also been busy with Slayer. Nevertheless, Exodus has had a reputation to being true to their stuff, so it really made me wonder how these external factors would play up.
The band’s founder Gary Holt released this statement with the album: “For our 10th album, we’ve really knuckled down big-time – we’ve never been so fast, brutal and groovy before!” After listening to the album, it was clear that Blood In, Blood Out has taken Exodus to the next level. They are cutting out the fat even further and focusing down on music. In the opening few minutes of this album, we find Exodus going back to their old school thrash roots and deciding to up the aggression a few notches. This is classic, angry, frantic thrash like the good old days and it sounds rock solid and mighty pissed off. However, if one listens closely to tracks like “Collateral Damage”, “Salt The Wound”, and later part of the album, one notices how wide the range of tempos and moods actually is. The big selling point for Exodus is of course the riffs and Blood In, Blood Out has a cornucopia of big, infectious, headbanging thrash riffage in every track. Kudos to the duo of Lee Altus and Gary Holt. Check out “My Last Nerve”, “Blood In, Blood Out” or “Honor Killings” for ample evidence, though every track has its moments and hooks. During the tracks “BTK” and “Salt The Wound” the band looks back to its early years turning to Testament’s Chuck Billy for a vocal cameo and a guitar solo by Kirk Hammett respectively. Fans who know the band’s history will appreciate these moments all the more.
The production is big, very clear but effective, with a biting, thick guitar sound and a crisp, solid drum sound. Obviously this is light years ahead of the squawky, tinny sound they had on their early albums and while that old production suited their classic sound, this is modern-day and their traditional thrash attack sounds just fine with a modern production. There is not a song that on this release that is not completely memorable and worthy of putting on your ‘best of’ playlist for the band. Altus and Holt are in a pretty good shape and their performance as mentioned earlier is flawless. The guitar leads shred precisely and a Swiss watch factory could use drummer Tom Hunting’s precision to test its wares. Looking at Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza‘s recent work with Hatriot and earlier albums with Exodus, he seems to have upped the ante on the catchiness of his vocal work, with plenty of parts to scream and sing-a-long with. It’s as if everything is just catchier on this album and it allows it to rattle around in the head a long after the album has finished. No filler just makes it better, right?
To conclude, on Blood In, Blood Out, their tenth platter, Exodus once again proved they’re seasoned elder statesmen of thrash with no sushi in sight. Well over 30 years into their existence, Exodus still show no obvious sign of aging or slowing down which is basically a testament to the band´s authenticity and drive. This is yet another slab of righteous, riotous thrash with tons of hooks and it demands the horns be raised high in homage.