EXODUS needed to come back. With the lackluster album finale from the band, 1992’s debacle “Force Of Habit” and the eventual and very sad death of EXODUS’ original singer during his reunion with the band, this Bay Area Thrash monster needed another life and another chance to rear its ugly mug once again. Armed with a lot of darkness in their hearts, a lot of pissed off energy at the state of the world, and the return of long time vocalist Steve Souza, its no wonder that “Tempo Of The Damned” would be EXODUS’ best album since their insane debut.
Retaining some of the catchy groove that was the only redeeming factor of “Force Of Habit” and returning to their Thrash roots with a vicious snarl, “Tempo Of The Damned” isn’t only one of the best albums from EXODUS but one of the best Thrash albums ever conceived. It’s modern enough to bring the band back into the relevant Metal mainstream and old school enough in style and approach to appease all of their long time fans and even most elitists in the genre. This album is a sure-fire kick in the face of pure Thrash Metal madness.
What “Tempo Of The Damned” is, in all its own honesty, is a perfect combination of the old and the new. Songs like “Scar Spangled Banner” bring to life an older Thrash mentality that translates into a new area. Whereas songs like the single, “Throwing Down” show that the band knows how to write a catchy song with significant groove in it that not only matches their older mentality but shows that they can match it with their modernity. The guitars ably crunch the shit out of riffs (Gary Holt has always been one of the best riff writers in the business) with the overlaid leads and bursting solos that Thrash is known for. The energy just pours out of every song, whether it be headbanging break neck speed or mid tempo groove, and this album is near perfect for every second it plays.
It must also be mentioned this is the return of Steve Souza to the vocal place. This may not seem like a ‘return’ or ‘reunion’ album since they had reunited years prior and he was the vocalist on their last studio album too. His presence in the band had become almost too tongue in check towards the end of his stint prior to this release, but his snarling quintessential Thrash style of yelling/bark fits the lyrical writing and general pissed off tone of the album perfectly. Although hearing another album with Paul Baloff (their original vocalist whom died not long before the time of this album) would have been something to cherish, hearing Souza on here fits almost too well. Hard to think anyone else could have done it.
“Tempo Of The Damned” is just everything one could want from an EXODUS album. It’s dark, pissed off, filled to the brim with energetic Thrash brilliance, and performances that may top their career. If you have been disappointed with their output since “Bonded By Blood” even this album may make you a believer once again.
Songs to check out: “Scar Spangled Banner”, “Blacklist”, “Impaler”.
(Online June 7, 2010)