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Exodus Tempo Of The Damned

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Exodus - Tempo Of The Damned
01. Scar Spangled Banner
02. War Is My Shepherd REAL AUDIO
03. Blacklist
04. Shroud of Urine
05. Forward March
06. Culling the Herd
07. Sealed With a Fist
08. Throwing Down
09. Impaler
10. Tempo of the Damned
2004 Nuclear Blast Records

OUR SCORE
8
Reviewed by: Michael Gluck   //   Published: 6/21/2004

With all of the forgettable yet highly praised albums that have flooded the lives of young, angst-ridden boys and girls as of late, the time was drawing perilously close to the official roots of metal being forgotten and deemed outdated by legions of bands emphasizing either incomprehensible song structures, nauseatingly talent-less singing and screaming, or a concoction that incorporates elements of the two. That time will have to be put on hold until a later date. The year of 2004 is the year that American thrash metal will make its first decisive impact in more than a decade on the worldwide metal scene that disowned it for years as rock, pop, industrial, and hardcore influences twisted its face and compromised the sales and reputations of many essential thrash records that were released throughout the nineties. Just released albums like Death Angel’s The Art of Dying, Anthrax’s Music Of Mass Destruction, Machine Head’s Through The Ashes Of Empires, flanked by eagerly awaited returns of Testament, DRI, Slayer, Nuclear Assault, and Megadeth will solidify this year as yet another long overdue chapter in the chronicles of American thrash metal.

Quite possibly the most astonishing highlight of this year’s resurgence in American thrash is the heralded return of California’s Exodus, the band largely responsible for how evil and fast metal became following their inception. While Metallica’s penchant for unbridled speed faded away after Kill ‘Em All only to return briefly on …And Justice For All, Exodus proudly embraced their need for speed spanning their entire career to teach lesson after lesson of pit violence and head-banging mayhem. For it was only due to the release of their debut Bonded By Blood in 1984 that Slayer hastily dropped their makeup and Priest/Maiden worshipping sound in favor of a faster, more lethal one. The three main issues that prevented Exodus from escalating to the echelons of success and status of Slayer and their other Bay Area comrades were an unstable vocalist situation, a record label not half as potent as Rick Rubin’s Def American, and the overuse of drugs which impeded their work ethic but rarely their creativity, as their five full length albums from their golden era will attest to.

1997 was supposed to be the glorious return of Exodus. Having welcomed the party animal Paul Baloff back into the fold to perform for throngs of Exodus fans who missed them so much, the band’s return was immortalized on the timeless live album Another Lesson In Violence which saw them perform nearly their entire debut album with Andy Sneap’s trademark pounding production effort. Their past coming back to haunt them, drug use escalated and a lack of label support, not to mention a questionable climate for American metal (Pantera’s Great Southern Trendkill selling only a mere few hundred thousand in start contrast to their earlier and more immature work, Anthrax’s near-flawless album Stomp 442 not breaking the 100k mark and resulting in the band being dropped, Danzig’s musical fall from grace, very public breakups of Faith No More and Life Of Agony, and Ozzfest dominated by nu-metal clones), led the band to put their comeback plans on hold for the time being. Little did anyone know that the next time Exodus would seriously attempt a resurgence, it would be without vocalist and founder Paul Baloff who would die of a massive stroke in 2002.

While it is a true shame that Paul Baloff could not continue his reign into the studio following the live album, Exodus’ ever-apt replacement and second official vocalist Steve Souza is clearly the man to proudly front Exodus well into the band’s new era as a drug-free unit for the first time in their lengthy existence. He brings with him the same malevolent snarl and menacing presence that were so effective on such classic Exodus albums as Pleasures Of The Flesh and Fabulous Disaster combined with newfound maturity and an improved scream that the fans could only have dreamt of back then. When he yells the lyrics “I haven’t any doubt that your time has run out, ‘cause I’ve added your name to my blacklist” at the closing of "Blacklist," there is no choice but to believe Souza that he has no mercy for those attempting to hold him or Exodus back. Other songs of self-empowerment include the instant classic thrasher Forward March with prophetic lines like “To be on the attack, kicking down the wall and kicking your face in, means I’m moving forward. My new life can begin” and “Now I’m going to wipe out all those who say they’re first, I’ll be the first in line. My attitude’s the worst because I am so spoiled and never second best, I will leave you in the dust and lay your ass to rest.”

A prominent theme on the customarily Gary Holt-composed album is derision for organized religion and American foreign politics. Easily the track most reminiscent of their Bonded By Blood era, "War Is My Shepherd" threatens religious believers with a vengeful claim that “You put your faith in Christianity, I put mine in artillery. My M-16, my lord and savior! Christ never done me a motherfucking favor…praise the lord and pass the ammunition, my sermon is my demolition.” The lethal opening riff to "Scar Spangled Banner" puts Dimebag Darrell and his Godsmack/Slipknot-styled hybrid band Damageplan to shame, as it uses a similar style that the former southern guitar hero once pioneered and hailed as the killer of trends, only to blasphemously step right into a bland and faceless replica of the band he once swore by.

Tempo Of The Damned delivers on all fronts that the so-called leaders of the pack have failed miserably to do in recent years. Exodus does not disgrace their fanbase with a garage rock production job as Metallica disowned the metal world with on St. Anger, nor do they incorporate shady electronic elements and unlistenable songs like Megadeth did by tempting fate and losing with Risk. Instead, Exodus have penned an album that could not have been better written by a band twenty years their junior, a rare feat in a metal world where creativity, stamina, and speed tend to peak with youth and then fade with age. "Impaler," a track co-written by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett in 1981 prior to him having left Exodus, does not sound dated at all and features a lengthy solo breakdown that became a live staple over the years despite only being recorded prior to now on their very first demo. The other track on Tempo from a different era entitled "Throwing Down" and written in 1997 for Gary Holt’s new project at the time Wardance, fits in perfectly with its mean southern groove and trademark Exodus solo break midway through.

Bottom Line: While Slayer indeed took ball that Exodus created and ran with it successfully for nearly twenty years, the latter has returned to claim stake in the metal scene that they somehow failed to lead past the mid-eighties. To a degree, it is understandable that thrash developed a bad rap as the nineties progressed into the new millennium, since of the classic bands who were still around, few were making records that sounded anything like the albums that their legacies were built upon. Exodus cleans up that mess by staying more true to their roots than any Bay Area metal band has, ever. Period. And as the taboo against metal begins to finally shed its skin for the first time in music history, the stage is finally set for Exodus to not only produce an album as immense as Tempo Of The Damned, but to have it deservedly recognized for the greatness that it embodies.

Comments
thisisforever_   posted 1/1/2005 1:15:29 AM
first post gays suck it