By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Album: Blood In Blood Out
Release Date: 10/14/14
In terms of Thrash Metal, what comes to mind for many are undoubtedly the “Big 4” which includes genre pioneers Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. However, the San Francisco Bay Area scene of the early-to-mid-80’s certainly wasn’t limited to just a handful of acts, nor was it short of boundary-pushing pioneers.
Among the many acts to emerge from that scene was Exodus. Noteworthy for featuring a young Kirk Hammett in their early incarnation, Exodus was just as innovative and trailblazing as any of the Big 4 acts, if not more so. Their style has always pushed the limits, even into extreme metal territory, with early Death Metal acts like Possessed and Morbid Angel, as well as Black Metal act Emperor citing them as a major influence.
30 years later, the Thrash legends return with a brand new neck-braking record, sure to pump some life into a genre that has grown stale in recent years. Blood In Blood Out, their latest effort, released via Nuclear Blast Records, is probably the best release in the genre since Anthrax’s massive 2011 comeback effort, Worship Music.
Exodus waste no time in getting right to the point on Blood In Blood Out, with non-stop brutal riffage, speedy solos, and socio-politically-charged lyrics that touch base on everything from organized religion to the current state of national affairs.
Leading off Blood In Blood Out in the Industrial-tinged “Black 13,” a ripping album opener featuring over-the-top aggressive riffs and lyrics that hook the listener immediately. From there the pummeling only continues with the catchy title track and political awareness of “Collateral Damage.” “Salt the Wound” features an unmistakable guest appearance by Kirk Hammett in the form of a tight, wah-drenched guitar solo and “BTK” features some brutal guest vocals from Testament’s Chuck Billy.
The second half of Blood In Blood Out takes the intensity even further with angsty tracks like “Wrapped in the Arms of Rage” and “My Last Nerve.” “Numb,” one of the album’s several highlights, features vocalist Steve Souza screaming “I’m sick of what I’ve become, but this world has rendered me so fucking numb!”
Closing out the album are a pair of slammers; “Honor Killings and “Food for the Worms,” leaving the listener adrenalized and ready to take on anything! A true metal record through and through, the album closes with a special bonus track, a cover of Angel Witch’s “Angel of Death.”
Despite several lineup changes and guitarist Gary Holt’s stints with Slayer, Exodus have prevailed a force to be reckoned with in Thrash Metal. Contemporaries such as Lamb of God, Machine Head and Trivium will fall to their knees, as these godfathers of Thrash show the metal community yet again, just how it’s done.
All in all, Blood In Blood Out is a very tight riff-heavy, consistent and truly brutal album that highlights the best the heavy metal genre has to off. Highlights include “Black 13,” “Blood In Blood Out,” “Salt the Wound,” “Numb” and “Honor Killings.” The bonus track is pretty stellar as well, breathing new life into an old NWOBHM gem. For fans of pure, gut-wrenching, no gimmicks heavy metal, Blood In Blood Out is a perfect record.