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EXODUS ‘Tempo of the Damned ’ (Nuclear Blast 2004)


In the last five years we have witnessed the rebirth of many bands, most of which were unsuccessful. One of the bands which decided to rise from their ashes and release a new album are Exodus, the band many consider to be the founders of the Bay Area Thrash Metal.

It was 1982 when three really talented musicians decided to join forces: Tom Hunting (Drums), Gary Holt (Guitars) and Kirk Hammet (Guitars). Paul Baloff joined in as the frontman and the line up was complete.

During the next year the band gained huge attention in the international underground scene. In 1983 Kirk Hammet decided to leave Exodus and joined Metallica (replacing Dave Mustane), but that wasn't enough to stop the band from fulfilling their destiny. They hired Rick Hunolt (Guitars) and Rob McKillop (Bass) and with that line up they released "Bonded by Blood", which is considered by many to be the best Thrash Metal album ever!

The band toured with Venom and Slayer ("Three way Thrash" video" being the documentary of that tour) and made themselves known even more. Two years after the release of "Bonded by Blood" Paul Baloff left the band (personal and musical differences being the reason). The singer of a band called Legacy (later called Testament), Steve "Zetro" Sousa became the new frontman and a new era begun for Exodus. With that line up they released "Pleasures of the Flesh", "Fabulous Disaster" (my favourite album), "Impact Is Imminent", "Good Friendly Violent Fun (live)","Lessons In Violence" and "Force Of Habit".

In 1993, ten years after they were formed, Exodus split effected by personal problems. There was a short reunion in 1996 when the band recorded "Another Lesson In Violence" (live) with original singer Paul Baloff, which made all of us Exodus maniacs hope for the best untill....Paul Baloff passed away on 2nd of February 2002 after having a stroke. The future of the band seemed uncertain at the time, but the Exodus machine was not yet ready to give up. Once more Steve "Zetro" Souza came to fill in Paul's place and with Jack Gibson on the bass (originally appeared on "Another Lesson...") they started writing new m aterial. The result of the Exodus Mark II reunion which is scheduled to "hit the stores" on February the 2nd 2004 is called "Tempo Of The Damned".

I was really anxious as to which the result would be, especially since the bands last studio effort was "Force Of Habit" back in 1992 - twelve years ago. Would Exodus be able to deliver the goods or is this another case of "Reforming for the money-one tour and we're out of here"?

I am really happy to announce that Exodus are back stronger than ever. The band created another masterpiece, and album which is equally important to them as "Bonded By Blood" was in the beginning of their career. This album has everything: Classic Thrash Metal riffs, flamboyant solos, and a vocalist who's not afraid to even cross the path which leads to the Kingdom of Death Metal (similar to what Testament's Chuck Billy did on "The Gathering").

I always remember my friend Thanasis saying that the secret of a successful Thrash Metal band lies in the rhythm section and Exodus are no exemption. Tom Hunting is an excellent ! drummer and this album is a testimony of his unique abilities. His "partner in crime" is Jack Gibson on the bass, a great musician who deserves to be a member of this legendary band.

"Tempo Of The Damned" contains ten songs which proudly carry the Exodus tradition. The opening track "Scar Spangled Banner" is a hymn to Thrash Metal - the best way to open this album. Great riffs, fast drums and powerful vocals...brilliant! "War Is My Sheppard" is another powerful song in which Souza combines his powerful screams with Death Metal grins, and the recipe is complete. Low corded guitars and a great riff lifts up the dynamics of the song and i can begin to imagine plenty of necks spinning with this song.

Things will slow down a bit with "Blacklist" and "Shroud of Urine" two classic Exodus mid tempo songs but not for long. "Forward March" is my personal favourite, a song with great melodies, a great metal riff and explicit lyrics - Exodus at their best! "Culling The Herd" and "Sealed With A Fist" are songs which could easily have belonged in the "Pleasures Of The Flesh" album.

The last of the mid tempo songs is "Throwing Down" with another display of heavy riffs and strong massive vocals. Do you need another fast one? "Impaler" is quite a tricky song. The first one and a half minute of the song consists of a slow heavy riff but then Hell breaks loose and another Thrash Metal Classic is born! The last track of the album is "Tempo Of The Damned" another fast and furious track which will leave every Thrasher with a huge smile on their faces!

Exodus did a really good job with this album: They managed to sound fresh without betraying either their legacy nor their music genre. "Tempo of The Damned" is an album created from pure Thrashers and is suitable for all the lovers of the extreme Metal music, and as the legends themselves once said: "There are some that try but they won't survive, they don't hot cause their wimps - and this exercise helps you brutalise with us - Exodus" the Toxic Waltz with the "Tempo Of The Damned"!



Review by John Stefanis

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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