With a history stretching back into the early 80’s, 34 years of making music and the Bay Area Thrash Scene, Exodus are undoubtedly one of the stalwarts of the thrash metal scene. Now though, in 2014, Tom Hunting (drums), Jack Gibson (bass), Steve Souza (vocals), Lee Altus (guitars) and Gary Holt (guitars) are back with their latest album, Blood In, Blood Out, and are once again poised to take on the world of thrash with their own devastating approach to the genre we all know so well.
Let’s not allow that to suggest that this album is predictable though, and as opening track Black 13 kicks things into being, it’s clear that this is a fresh Exodus, and that a lot of thought, consideration and work has gone into the creation that lays before us. Heavy from the word go, the build-up that is laid down to get things going lures you in, gets you reaching for the volume up button, and drips with that Exodus crunch that you would expect from them – it’s a hell of a way to kick the album into being. Soon enough launching into a full thrash assault, you’re soon propelled into a melee of hammering drums, hammering guitar work, rumbling bass lines and those Souza vocals – there’s no denying it’s an Exodus record, and it sounds damned good from where I’m sitting.
Blood In, Blood Out follows much the same sorts of convention, this time doing away with the intro and instead, launching the listener straight into a pit of all out thrash destruction, hooking them in with gang vocals and crunchy guitars, whilst pummelling away with those rolling drums and deep, ominous bass lines. Throwing in a guitar solo of epic proportions just for good measure, it’s easy to see why this is the title track as quite simply, it’s a standout track from start to finish, and one of the highlights of the album in my view. Having said that, on an album like Blood In, Blood Out, it’s pretty tricky to pick favourites as each track stands up in its own right, transporting the listener back to the glory days of thrash metal and proving once and for all that the old guns can still stand alongside the new world of bands and easily hold their own.
Working through the deep and menacing rhythms of Collateral Damage and on through Salt The Wound, Body Harvest and BTK, the thrashy goodness continues to flow, each track hitting ever so slightly harder than the one before, and each one doing exactly what it says on the tin – hitting home with some serious metal power. Another stand out moment arrives in the form of Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage, shifting from a “twiddly” opening guitar line into a crunch fuelled melee of all things heavy. There’s something about this track which doesn’t just hark back to the Bay Area thrash scene, but almost captures the influences from the NWOBHM, with duel guitar lines working to add a different element to the sound, whilst all the time keeping that serious Exodus power at the forefront of the sound. To me, the highlight of the track is at around 2:16 – all of a sudden breaking down the track to fully demonstrate what they’re capable of before once again, launching into an almighty overdrive driven solo – if you’re looking for the track that is going to hook you into this album once and for all then this is it, one to make sure you check out.
As we work through My Last Nerve, Numb, Honor Killings and Food For The Worms to reach the end of the album, there’s no denying that not only are Exodus back, but they’ve seriously hit out hard with this latest offering. Heavy from start to finish, and oozing with thrash power up until the final seconds, Blood In, Blood Out proves that thrash is still as current now as it was 34 years ago.
Sure, there are bound to be people out there who say that this is just another Exodus record, but to them I’d say no – this is THE Exodus record that they’ve been building up to all this time, and one of the standout albums of 2014.
Words: Dave Nicholls