Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Exodus must be considered as thrash legends, these Bay Area thrashers has been around like forever and with the amazing "comeback" in 2003 with Tempo Of The Damned they confirmed their place among the top thrashers. But after that album there has been some serious changes in the band with three new member to the foil and I didn't expect Exodus (or is it 'Gary Holt and band' now?) to manage to deliver such a bone-crusher as they have with Shovel Headed Kill Machine.
The album has an in your face opening with Raze and Exodus sounds just as hungry as they did on Tempo Of The Damned, as if they are once again loaded with revenge. Shovel Headed Kill Machine has got everything a thrash metal album is suppose to have: speed, aggression, thundering riffs, furious solos and drums that go on like a battering ram. 44 Magnum Opus is another perfect example of that while Going Going Gone is another typical Exodus track with a little more groove in the heavy riffs and with a powerful refrain. There are also a couple of songs that have a bit of length, Deathamphetamine that is exactly nine minutes long delivers a good blend of all what Exodus is about, and despite its length it never lets you go but instead holds you firmly in a thrash grip. Altered Boy is another long song that lets you breathe for a while, a more restrained track with a little less speed and instead with a mighty thrash groove that makes this song go forward in the most pleasant way.
Sound wise, Shovel Headed Kill Machine has much in common with Tempo Of The Damned despite the changes in the line-up. But although it is faster and angrier (yup, that is actually possible), it doesn't quite kick the same amount of ass. The riffs are there but there is something lacking with the songs as they are not as strong as earlier, and sometimes there are parts that sounds a bit to familiar from songs on Tempo, but hey, it still kicks ass so who cares? New vocalist Rob Dukes might not be a new Baloff or Zousa but he is a good follower in the same vein. His raw voice fits perfectly into the sound of Exodus even if I would have preferred if Zousa still was being in charge of the microphone. Lee Altus (Heathen, ex-Die Krupps) on guitar is doing a pretty damn good job as well, and to bring him in seems to have been an excellent choice. But the biggest improvement with the new members is to have Paul Bostaph (ex-Slayer) behind the drums, since when it comes to thrash metal this is definitely one of the guys you want to have.
After more than twenty years in the scene Exodus still deliver full-force head-on rip your heart out thrash metal. It feels like they are taking a tiny step back with this release but believe my words, they are still too reckoned with.