The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A
posted on 10/2007 By:
“Are you ready to go another round with Exodus? “
When I asked myself that question, I was surprised that my initial reaction was uncertainty. It’s been years since the thrash pioneers did me wrong so I guess my biggest concern was that something had to give at some point. How long can a band be expected to make successively killer albums? With so little inner turmoil since Shovel Headed Kill Machine (and the return of drummer Tom Hunting could only be a positive change), I wasn’t sure how Exodus would maintain their pace without at least some measure of hardship to fuel their fire. Well it took but a few scant minutes to shut me up once I hit ‘Play’ on The Atrocity Exhibition. Looking back, I’d like to adjust my scores for SHKM, because this album is just much more solid than that one. Although there was very little wrong with it, what we have here is the product of a band that has really gelled together as a unit.
Musically, this is in the same vein as it’s predecessor, but it feels much more like Tempo of the Damned (a modern thrash benchmark that will be hard for anyone to truly surpass) - not too surprising with the backbone from that album once again in place here. We get the usual array of speeds, from the tempered pace of “Funeral Hymn,” to the ripping riffery of “Iconoclasm,” and everything in between, including the epic 10+ minute title track, which deserves to go down with Death Angel’s “The Ultra-Violence” as the greatest in the genre.
There are some unusual elements on display here, such as the clean(?!) vocals of the bridge in “Children of a Worthless God,” which thankfully don’t find vocalist Rob Dukes attempting to be sensitive or anything, just trying to add something different to the mix. Later, “The Garden of Bleeding” starts off rather doomy and slowly builds before the Gary Holt/Lee Altus blitzkrieg is launched, and revisited at around 3:20. Even album intro “A Call to Arms,” which is mostly a military march drum rhythm with a little bit of guitar before the two guitarists start trading licks, shows a different side of the band. That leads right into “Riot Act,” which is likely to become the “Bonded by Blood” or “Exodus” of this era. The only chink in this album’s armor really is “As It Was, As It Soon Shall Be,” because it sounds like a direct rip-off of “Shudder to Think” from SHKM. On that album, it was a fairly refreshing mid-tempo slab with a great hook; here, it just seems like they’re plagiarizing themselves. It’s still a strong track, but I would have preferred something more original, or at least not so blatantly recycled.
Thank you, Exodus, for being so goddamn reliable. At a time where I am disappointed by so many new albums from bands I like, you just keep kicking my ass. The Atrocity Exhibition has a damn good shot at landing them at the top of my year-end list once again, a feat not once accomplished since I started keeping lists almost a decade ago. Exodus just seems to be one of those bands that truly unites the metal scene. Although many continue to debate who the better vocalist is, those debates often occur at the bar or outside of the club before their set. Once the band takes stage they are united and thrashing in unison. If you don’t like this album, you may need to clean out your ears after removing your head from your ass. If you don’t like Exodus, you simply don’t like metal.
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Exhibit B: The Human Condition
Shovel Headed Tour Machine (Live At Wacken And Other Atrocities)
Let There Be Blood
Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Tempo of the Damned