Exodus: Blood In Blood Out

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Exodus: Blood In Blood Out
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Exodus: Blood In, Blood Out
Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
October 10th, 2014
Release length: 1:02:19
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Since their formation in 1979, the Bay Area’s Exodus have grown into one of the most vital names in the Metal world. It’s true the band has called it a day more times than necessary, but it always seems to lead to a more stable future as far as presence, though not really line-up. Band members have come and gone, though since 2007 has remained fairly consistent. Guitarist Gary Holt and bassist Jack Gibson were joined by guitarist Lee Atlus in 2005, and drummer Tom Hunting left around 2005, but returned in 2007. In 2004, vocalist Rob Dukes was picked up as the band’s new frontman, but earlier this year that changed, ushering in the return of Steve “Zetro” Souza once more. But with this sudden a change before recording their eleventh studio full-length Blood In Blood Out, one can only wonder if this new studio offering will be as strong as expected, or will it be one of their weakest yet?

There are plenty of reasons why Blood In Blood Out will infuriate the listener, and the first is literally the very second it starts. “Black 13” is both an introductory track, as well as full-length song you’re going to wish was, infact, cut into two parts thanks to the high pitch static noise that can send your animals into a fit with how shrill it is. This goes on for the first ninety seconds of the dystopian start that, had this brain numbing effect (it literally makes it impossible for me to think even at the lowest volume setting my speaker have) not existed, honestly would have been a superb start before the song finally kicked in. The atmosphere remains the same for the slower segments that really rely more on Groove or the fact that they are transition points between the traditional faster riffs the band is known for, as well as a solid guitar solo. But aside the dog whistle audible to human ears that kicked things off, the other notable issue is how incredibly flat the bass guitar sounds. While you can hear very subtle distinctions, it literally just sounds like a single note metallic twang from start to finish that is as equally irritating as the aforementioned noise, though with prolonged exposure becomes more like an odd massage for your brain.

This is one of those rare albums you want to bass guitar basically drowned out, and the songs that really manage to do that are the ones that seem to stick out the most. “Blood In Blood Out” is a much tighter performance that harkens back to the glorious aggressive days of the band without such a heavy focus on groove. The somewhat restrained rougher vocals work perfectly with the rebellious technical chords and tighter performances all around, and even the decent gang chants that could have been a little beefier through the album have enough impact to suit the dismal environment, which is given very little light thanks to the solid guitar solo that treads into Neo-Classical territory and makes you crave more like it. “Collateral Damage” can ly be summed up like this, though the chanting is a little more robust here, accentuated by the slight Punk touch that can be felt in the chords. While the bass guitar still sounds stagnant, there’s a little more enthusiasm that allows the limited output and what extended range it provides to work in the song’s favor, as if grounding the energy in a way to remind you this isn’t meant to be fun but rather a call to arms in form of a modern rebellion.

There are a few more laid back options on Blood In Blood Out though. “BTK” is a slower offering overall with some catchy grooves throughout, though that incessant mechanical bass guitar rumble is pushed farther to the forefront. If you can ignore it, this one is actually really relaxing, even offering up some melodic segments that further promote a sense of ease. The guitar solo has a little more technicality to it that brings in a little tension, growing even more unsettling as it goes on as well, eventually shifting to a mildly crushing breakdown with some surprisingly guttural shouting in the background. “My Last Nerve” is similar in that is shares the speed, but in the end offers little memorable to it other than a rough guitar solo that sounds like it might have been meant for a random Rock song and not this. Although, it is more enjoyable than “Honor Killings,” which from start to finish sounds like it even bores the band, making it come off like nothing but a filler track that only Steve and the solo towards the end give life to.

Considering the time of Rob’s departure, it’s easy to assume that most of Blood In Blood Out was composed with his style in mind, which is something listeners can pick up on from time to time. “Body Harvest” has some decent main verses that blend a decent groove into mid-tempo Thrash Metal riffs, though the chorus just ends up an attitude driven and fairly empty Groove Metal passage. The gang chants suffer from it, coming through incredibly bland and as if the performers were bored as hell, and the higher pitch vocals of Souza sound fairly uncharacteristic, something that would have far better fit Duke’s approach. The same goes for “Salt the Wound.” While Steve is no stranger to belting out some lines, the held focus in the chorus doesn’t quite have the same bite if it were Rob behind the micropher. This song also seems to have an odd bump in the music towards the guitar solo that could be a glitch in the digital copy I received for review purposes, but is distracting enough to merit mentioning in case it is on the final product.

In the end, Blood In Blood Out has more cons than it does pros really, all literally starting the second the damn album starts. Why the minute-and-a-half long high pitch whistle at the beginning honestly makes no sense, and not separating that extensive intro from the song itself is mind boggling. Of course the bass is essentially worthless outside of basically giving your brain a nice little hour long massage with how monotone and bland its output is. Admittedly, for an album that’s just over an hour in length, there’s very little in the line of filler to be found, though it does still kind of exist. Even most the over six minute songs aren’t bad other than the annoying steady mechanical bass sound. For an Exodus album it isn’t bad, and as we’ve heard could be a lot worse, but what faults exist really do hold it back from being anything that truly stands out in the Thrash Metal field, as well as the band’s own discography.


01. Black 13 – 6:21
02. Blood In, Blood Out – 3:42
03. Collateral Damage – 5:28
04. Salt the Wound – 4:25
05. Body Harvest – 6:28
06. Btk – 6:56
07. Wrapped in the Arms of Rage – 4:30
08. My Last Nerve – 6:11
09. Numb – 6:14
10. Honor Killings – 5:43
11. Food for the Worms – 6:22
Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10

Exodus
Exodus

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.