Release DetailsLABEL Massacre Records
RELEASED ON 2/12/2013
Steve “Zetro” Souza needs Gary Holt, and Gary Holt needs Steve Souza.
Heroes of Origin
It goes without saying that it really matters who you work with, but I’m going to say it anyway… Members of The Who and Led Zeppelin had embarrassing solo careers. Samoth and Trym’s work in Zyklon, while strong, was a shadow of the groundbreaking time they spent with Emperor, and also of what Ihsahn has done on his own since. LeBron needed an all star team to win a title; Uma Thurman sucks outside of Quentin Tarantino movies; Eric Clapton only released crap under his own name, etc…
And of course, Steve “Zetro” Souza needs Gary Holt, and Gary Holt needs Steve Souza.
Having provided vocals on five Exodus albums, Zetro laid down pipes for more Holtian thrash than anyone else and, in Fabulous Disaster and Tempo of the Damned, worked on two of the band’s three best albums. Sure he snarled on some semi-snoozers, too, but when the Zetro-Exodus was hot, it was fuckin’ blazing. Since his latest split from the band, he worked with some guys who are only good with Devin Townsend on the Tenet album, took part in the Dublin Death Patrol project, and has now put together the family act Hatriot. (“Hatriot,” by the way, comes from the lyrics of the Exodus song “Scar Spangled Banner.” And yes, I too originally read it as “hat riot,” which sounds more like some nightmare out of the late 90s swing revival. Gotta consider how something looks on paper, too, there, Steve...) Consisting of Zetro, a Souza son each on bass and drums, and newcomers Kosta Varvatakis and Miguel Esparza on guitars, Hatriot's debut Heroes of Origin is as thick as a Midwestern buffet, professionally recorded and performed, and easy as all hell to enjoy. In other words, it’s pure Exodusian thrash.
However, it’s not exactly ideal, or really all that necessary. Exodus with Souza worked so well because his zany paranoid and political lyrics gave a tongue-in-cheek fun side to Holt’s tightly constructed thrash. It was an ideal balance that, when split apart, exposes Exodus to getting far too serious and Zetro to sounding as silly as he really is. (Over-under 50 Zetro puns on this album. Place your bets.) Heroes of Origin is quite solid throughout, but it can’t help but feel like a bastard younger brother of Tempo of the Damned, with the best moments barely meeting the lowest tracks from the big Exodus comeback. “Weapons of Class Destruction” (word play!), for example, is a solid-as-fuck thrash track, complete with blazing solos and some gang vocal action, but it barely meets the level of a “Sealed with a Fist”-type tune, and doesn’t even come close to the best work Zetro did with Holt and company. Additionally, songs like “The Mechanics of Annihilation” and “Shadows of the Buried” start off sounding unique before settling into indistinguishable verse riffs and tempos, giving much of the album a paint-by-numbers feel, even if any one song is darn entertaining on its own.
So, yeah, Hatriot is basically an inferior clone, but it’s still far more than fucking listenable for anyone in the target audience. Zetro does his thrash-metal-Bon-Scott thing here better than he has in any other non-Exodus band, and the soloing from Varvatakis and Esparza is stellar, making Heroes of Origin easily his best release since leaving said band, and at least as strong as both Impact is Imminent and Force of Habit (which may not, I understand, be high praise to many of you). Overall Hatriot is the sound of a top thrash vocalist working without his ideal songwriting mate, and while we wait for this family project to eventually grow into something great, that incomplete partnership will loom large overhead.