01. Call to Arms
02. Riot Act
03. Funeral Hymn
04. Children of a Worthless God
05. As it was, As it soon shall be
06. The Atrocity Exhibition
08. The Garden of Bleeding
09. Bedlam 1-2-3
2007 Nuclear Blast Records
Arguably the most successful and sincere of the slew of classic thrash metal bands that have reformed in recent years, San Francisco Bay-area quintet Exodus has produced several solid albums since getting back together around 2002, and The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A is easily the re-convened band's most potent lesson in violence to date.
Kicking things off in epic fashion with the anthemic intro "Call to Arms", it isn't long before Exodus unleash the pummeling, streamlined thrash assault that has become their trademark with "Riot Act", a song which leaves little doubt that guitarist and principle songwriter Gary Holt is still the unchallenged master of razorsharp riff-o-rama. Though it's easy to be dazzled by the constant guitar wizardry of Holt and ex-Angel Witch axe-slinger Lee Altus, The Atrocity Exhibition is also notable for the performance of vocalist Rob Dukes and sees the singer coming into his own as yet another great Exodus frontman. Dukes' delivery on songs like "Funeral Hymn" isn't too far removed from Steve Souza's, but his raspy, leather-lunged bark is infused with a vigor and passion that Souza didn't always manage to bring to 2004's Tempo of the Damned. The rhythmic backbone of the Exodus is provided by returning original drummer Tom Hunting, who plays with such precision that it's hard to believe he spent two years away from the band. The whole thing is neatly wrapped in Andy Sneap's signature crisp 'n' crunchy production work.
In spite of all this, don't think for one minute the disc is strictly a conventional thrash album or some sort of retro re-hash. By Exodus standards there are parts of The Atrocity Exhibition that are downright progressive. "Children of a Worthless God" features a cleanly sung pre-chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on a Fear Factory record, while the title track is a ten minute epic that sees the band slowing down the pace for an almost Sabbath-esque chorus and Holt's bluesy solo work around the song's halfway point sounds like Cream-era Clapton on steroids. Many of the other songs clock in at over seven minutes, allowing the band to stretch out compositionally and further demonstrate their impressive musical chops. Lyrically, Exodus delves into provocative territory with lines like "I never gave a shit about the Middle East" from "As It Was, As It Soon Shall Be" and "Iconoclasm", where Dukes spits: "Christ is the same yesterday and today, forever a lie". Allah, Jesus Christ, George Bush, you name it, no one is spared from Exodus' verbal atrocities.
Bottom Line: Although some might argue that Exodus has become nothing more than "The Gary Holt Show" over the course of the past couple albums, Holt's willingness to re-tool the lineup only proves that the veteran guitarist has no intention of letting Exodus become outdated or stagnant. While newjack bands like Municipal Waste are content to remain stuck in mimicking the glories of 1985, Exodus makes every effort to drag thrash metal kicking and screaming into the present with "The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A."