Blood In Blood Out is Exodus’ first album with Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals since 2004’s Tempo of the Damned… and it’s like welcoming back an old friend. While Rob Dukes has held the fort admirably over the last couple of years, I got into the band in the Fabulous Disaster era and Souza’s recognisable screeching is a hugely important part of Exodus’ sound to me.
Strangely, the songs seem that bit more familiar to an old-schooler like me as well. As well as the vocals, the overall tone of the album is more like Impact is Imminent or FD than anything they’ve released in the intervening years since those classics came out.
The beginning of opener “Black 13” is a little strange, with some electronic sounds ramping things up (courtesy of Dan The Automator (Gorillaz, Mike Patton, Deltron 3030)) before the thrash kicks in. Soon enough, the familiar guitar tones kick in and Souza’s vocals take you back to the late 80’s. It’s like someone drafted the band from back in the day and gave them a bigger budget to really nail that sound.
There’s a definite level of maturity here that wasn’t present back in the early days, but that sense of dark Exodus humour that was part of the experience on the first few albums seems to have made a reappearance. Despite songs about some pretty heavy topics, the way it all hangs together makes the album fun rather than preachy – just what you want from a live show, and I’m very much looking forward to them touring on this stuff.
Standout tracks? I’d probably go for “Collateral Damage” with it’s multi-voiced shout-out chorus, “Body Harvest” for its real mix of styles, title track “Blood In, Blood Out” for it’s classic Exodus pro-moshpit lyrics and “Honor Killings” for the heavier sound and contentious subject matter. In other words, nigh on half the album.
Credit has to go to Gary Holt for writing nine of the eleven tracks with Lee Altus scribing the aforementioned “Honor Killings” and “Body Harvest” being a team effort. Though some tracks are a bit better than others, there’s nothing that lets the album down at all. All the worries about Exodus suffering due to Holt taking up that exalted position within Slayer were unfounded.
A welcome return for Exodus as a whole and for Souza in particular. The album is due for release on October 13th.