The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A

Since they reformed in 2004, Exodus has been releasing quality album after quality album. Tempo of the Damned is one of the best “comeback” albums I’ve ever heard – a relentless assault on the ears that thrashes intensely and takes no prisoners. I had my doubts about follow-up album Shovel Headed Kill Machine, but it proved to be an even more vicious beast that could leave one totally devastated if not prepared for it. My thoughts coming into their latest opus, The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A were also of doubt – I knew that it would be quality thrash, but I doubted that they could possibly top SHKM – I was wrong – Exhibit A is the sound of band that knows exactly what it’s after – thrash domination.

Let’s start with the guitar tone – it’s absolutely mean and razor sharp. Rob Dukes is one of the most pissed off sounding vocalists in thrash metal, and his voice couldn’t be any more fitting of the music presented here. Returning drummer (and band co-founder) Tom Hunting isn’t too flashy, but his work behind the kit is steady and more than suitable for the outstanding riff work of main man Gary Holt and Lee Altus. That pair of guitarists shred with a fervor that is rarely matched, creating some of the most solid riffs and smoking solos you’ll find anywhere. I must say that this version of Exodus trumps the band of old through and through – Bonded by Blood not withstanding.

Exhibit A opens with the short intro “Call To Arms”, which is very telling of the slaughter that’s coming when “Riot Act” roars through the speakers, the shortest song on the album that wastes no time in getting it’s point across. “Funeral Hymn” is a monster at over eight minutes (one of three songs that top that mark), and never becomes dull, keeping ones attention throughout with its merciless attack. There’s some interesting stuff going on in “Children of a Worthless God”, namely the clean sung (yes, that’s right) chorus that brings to mind Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell a bit, and is executed very well, not to mention it sports the most memorable riffing on an album full of memorable riffs. The self-titled track has a killer riff that conjures up (to me) a vision of a helpless individual being chased through a dense woods or jungle by a fearsome predator – awesome I say. “Iconoclasm” may just be the albums most brutal track – unforgiving speed and aggression is what you get.

The production job by Andy Sneap, as expected, is phenomenal – it brings an already killer album to a whole new level. My only real gripe on the album comes in the form of ten minutes of silence at conclusion of “Bedlam 1-2-3” that finally gives way to a bluegrass track. I suppose this indicates that the sense of humor that the band was once so well known for hasn’t been completely replaced with pure piss and vinegar, but I find it somewhat annoying. Other than that, I would’ve liked to see Dukes utilize those clean vocals once or twice more, but it’s hardly necessary.

While there’s this whole new wave of young thrash bands recreating the thrash sounds of the 80’s, one of the originators is hell-bent on pushing the genre forward into much heavier, aggressive, and downright vicious territory, and who better to do it than Exodus? The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A is one of the best thrash albums of the year (if not the best), and I’d even go as far to say that it’s one of the best here in the new millennium. With that said, I can hardly wait for Exhibit B.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
November 2nd, 2007


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