Thirty years into their career, Bay Area thrash pioneers Exodus are showing no signs of slowing down. After basically igniting the whole “re-thrash” movement with their 2004 release Tempo of the Damned, the band saw a line-up change with the addition of Lee Atlus on guitar and Rob Dukes on vocals, replacing longtime members Rick Hunolt and Steve “Zetro” Souza. 2005’s Shovel Headed Kill Machine was a brilliant exercise in audio violence, and hinted at the direction the band would take with their subsequent The Atrocity Exhibition albums. Both of these albums strayed somewhat from the thrash metal formula Exodus helped to establish and featured some of their most experimental and progressive work to date, and while some condemned this stylistic shift, both albums featured some of the best music Exodus had ever written. Now, the band has returned with their 1oth studio album, Blood In, Blood Out (11th if you count There Will Be Blood), and they’ve reunited with Zetro on vocals. Does this album keep that classic thrash spirit alive, or have Exodus overstayed their welcome?
I’m happy to say it’s the latter. Blood In, Blood Out is an absolute ripper of an album, filled to the brim with that signature Zetro shriek, razor-sharp Gary Holt riffs, wailing guitar solos and a positively punk attitude. What’s more is that this album evokes the spirit of some of Exodus’ classic albums, such as Bonded By Blood and Impact is Imminent. On Blood In, Blood Out, they’ve stricken a great balance between the short-and-sweet bruisers of old and the longer, more contemplative songs displayed on The Atrocity Exhibition albums. Old school and new school thrashers alike are sure to find lots of things to love about this album.
“Black 13” is an interesting track to open the album, as it features a first for Exodus. The band collaborated with hip-hop artist Dan the Automator to create an electronic intro to the album, and while it’s a cool idea, it’s rather poorly executed here. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long, and the song breaks into an adrenaline inducing riff that’s sure to send listeners into a headbanging frenzy. This energy level is, for the most part, maintained through the entire album. Blood In, Blood Out is a faster, more punk-rock infused record than its predecessors, and between the always-fantastic riffage from Gary Holt and the catchy-as-hell gang vocals that appear throughout, this album plays like a classic thrash record through and through, and a good one at that.
In spite of all the badassery that Blood In, Blood Out has to offer, it doesn’t come without a few flaws. It’s nice that Exodus have decided to be more economic with their songwriting this time around, however, some, not all, of the riffs seem a little bit recycled; that’s to say, they lack the same “oomph” that some of the riffs on both of The Atrocity Exhibition records had. Granted, that’s not saying much, because there’s more great riffs on this album alone than most thrash bands have in their entire discography, but still, by Exodus’ standards, we’ve heard better from them. That said, Blood In, Blood Out is a more-than-worthy addition to Exodus’ storied catalog, and proves that these Bay Area veterans still have plenty of steam left to burn yet.
Exodus’ Blood In, Blood Out gets…