Persona Non Grata

Exodus’ 11th proper full-length album, Persona Non Grata, finally sees the light.  The band opting to delay it twice due to Covid, as well as drummer Tom Hunting’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, so the release could be closer to when the band could begin playing live shows again.  Time really flies and their last scorching album, Blood In, Blood Out, was released 7 years ago.  I forgot how long ago 2014 was. When Slayer went into retirement, Gary Holt, made it his mission to fully concentrate on Exodus in order for this album to be finalized and released.

As with the last several albums Exodus puts out albums of 60+ minutes or more.  I still find some of the stuff bloated, however I do tend to overlook some of that when Thrash Metal is played this well.  By now the band is a well-oiled machine, taking no prisoners, played with precise razor-sharp musicianship.  12 songs in an hour and the title track at over seven minutes opens the album and actually is one of the best songs the band has written in over 10 years.  Check out that opening riff and the pounding drums as the song bursts into a brutal thrash onslaught and Zetro’s vocals are so on point and he even does a little death metally growling.  Sounds like what he was using on Tempo of the Damned, specifically “War is My Shepherd”.  The 2.30 stomping groove part is so damn heavy.  Riffs upon riffs upon quality riffs and Tom Hunting’s drumming is faster than he’s ever done before.  Some very dual guitar soloing comes in and a stomp and start groove towards the end of the song that will murder your soul.  The fast thrash pace picks up and with Zetro’s deeper bellows is how the song ends.  Truly a terrific opening song.

“Slipping into Madness” has a melodic opening which slowly builds and builds before a classic 1987 thrash metal pace comes in with Zetro screaming like a madman.  The gang vocal chorus chants brings an old school flair to the tune, but this is something Exodus have been doing for years and of corpse it works quite well.  It’s just so catchy. The build-up into the fast pace at the 3.23 part is excellent as the song slows down with a great classic guitar solo.  The really magical moment is an homage to Iron Maiden.  Check out the melodic riffing over the 4 minute part, literally at the 3.59 part – those are freakin’ Maiden melodies, played over the fast part.  This part makes me hold up the metal horns and pay respect as I headbang uncontrollably while picking up my intestines from the floor.  Seriously this part is one of my favorite metal parts for all of 2021.  Uggghh, so damn cool Exodus did that.  “Elitist” is another cool song with Zetro going deeper again.  The chorus is very catchy, but for some reason when Zet sings “I Am An Elitist” his higher nasally tone is a little grating on my ears.  Like Bon Scott getting the crap squeezed out of him.  Other than those few parts the song is quite good.  Slow, fast and melodic at times.

“The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” at 3 minutes is short and to the point brutal thrashing madness.  Excellent heavy riffing over the fast parts.  Really chunky riffing.  This riff reminds me of the time my brother Jason and I were hanging out with Gary Holt, I don’t know, like maybe around 2014/2015 telling Gary no one and we meant no one, writes riffs like him.  We were emulating by playing air guitar and I swear we were humming a riff that is on this very song.  I could be wrong, that was a long time ago.  Anyway Gary was like you guys are outta your minds-I love it.  We slapped him on the back and told him to have a great show and of course they did.  Sorry about that little story, but anyway this track is excellent and must be in their live set.  It’s short, fast and will fit nicely wedged in between some of their longer songs.

“Antiseed” ends the album with a drum and guitar buildup before the song fires outta the cannon and is loaded with body bags, flags and excellent riffing.  Some sick drum rolls and excellent bass guitar underbelly.  Zetro throwing in more of the deeper bellows, which get into some of that pseudo death metal style, which I think sounds awesome when he does it.  Really angry and pissed off and breaks up his other tones.  More great guitar soloing and the song is over.

Persona Non Grata has a great album cover with the demonic angel/dragonfly and legions of zombies floating around.  Almost as if this cover is a continuation of their prior album cover, in terms of the theme.  The album production is flawless.  Perfect for Bay Area Thrash Metal, at its finest and Exodus are firing on all cylinders.  They mix in some shorter songs which is great and you never have to question the quantity of the sheer amount of riffs and ideas on an Exodus album.  As I previously mentioned, there is a little bloat and 12 songs is a lot, especially when music is this heavy, but hey they’re making up for the past 7 years since the last album was released, I assume.  Exodus are back, strong as ever and in terms of current USA thrash bands, still around and not retired, Exodus are the leaders.  Insanely awesome album!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
November 8th, 2021


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