Exodus: Blood In Blood Out (Nuclear Blast)
Building quickly with sirens blazing, the unmistakable thrash of Californian veterans Exodus unload immediately with opener Black 13. The incredible vocals of Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza make a welcome return to the Exodus fold, his first since 2004’s Tempo Of the Damned. For all that man mountain Rob Dukes filled the front of the stage, Souza’s voice really is the one for this band. Since the initial days of Paul Baloff, Souza’s snarling slightly histrionic delivery have become synonymous with Exodus as he featured on several of their early albums post Bonded By Blood.
This is a straight down the line ferocious slab of classic Exodus. No holds barred attack from start to finish, driving rhythms from powerhouse drummer Tom Hunting and bassist Jack Gibson, slicing dangerous fretwork from the legend and Slayer member Gary Holt and long standing co-guitarist Lee Altus combine with the tried and tested chant along choruses which you would expect. I fucking love Exodus. They do everything you want from a thrash band. Collateral Damage is a galloping race, the guitar work frenetic with Hunting’s drumming relentless. Salt In The Wound features a neat solo from ex-Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett and is a tasty piece, grizzly vocals and a balls-out chorus from Souza, riffs galore and those hooks! Absolute killer hooks ooze through this album and the riffs are just brutal. Catchier than an STD, Exodus know that the formula for their music ain't broke … and they have no intention of fixing it.
BTK features another guest, this time the awesome Chuck Billy. This track opens with a stomping, thundering front section before Souza preaches away, duelling with Billy on the chorus. Billy has a definitive delivery and merges with Souza to magnificent effect. BTK has a huge slab of Testament about it, crushing riffs laced with lashings of melody. I always thought Exodus hit you hard and fast but several of the tracks on Blood In Blood Out clock in at over six minutes. My Last Nerve has a pulverising bass and drum line propelling it forward, with Holt and Altus peeling off licks like spitfires diving towards a squadron of Heinkels. Exhilarating stuff. Some quick time changes and its back to the forward transmission; a good bloody wallop over the head. Penultimate track Food For The Worms builds slowly with massive menace before a double riff and staccato drumming powers the track into an all-out thrash monster which leads nicely to the special edition closer, Angel Of Death. Not the Slayer version, but a thrashing stomping cover of Angel Witch's track. It’s an impressive cover too, with Souza joining in vocals to excellent effect.
At several points in the album I pinched myself to confirm that I was indeed in 2014 and not the late 1980s, such is the retro vibe to this album. And I say that in a positive way, with Blood In Blood Out capturing the feel and sound of the emerging late 80s thrash era. This is my kind of thrash, and this album is about as good a release as anything this year. See you in the pit! 9/10
Bloodshot Dawn: Demons (Self Released)
UK outfit Bloodshot Dawn have been in our sights at MOM for a long time. Their spell binding self-titled debut caught the metal world by storm in 2012, a rather tasty long player of exceptional melodic death metal, full of technical musicianship which grabbed you by the scruff of the neck and proceeded to bang your head on the desk for the next 50 minutes. The band toured it relentlessly, and I think I caught them at least four times last year, each time happily observing their improvement. BD earned many plaudits for their debut including best unsigned band awards two years running from the mighty Terroriser magazine. An opening slot on the main stage on Friday at BOA this year pulled in a very healthy crowd and was reward for the hard work and promotion that the band had invested.
So, on the back of a very successful Pledge Music campaign, BD promised to deliver the follow-up Demons in the late autumn and they duly complied with their promise. This really was the difficult second album but holy crap, how they have delivered. The musical delivery on Demons is a massive step up from the already technically excellent debut. Smoke And Mirrors opens with the damaging drumming that you would expect from a death metal band, unstoppable pounding from new skins man Janna Jaloma merging with the brutal bass delivery of bassist Anthony Ridout. The vocals of Josh McMorran’s fit the track perfectly, whilst his guitar duelling with Benjamin Ellis is stunning. Intricate and immersed in technicality, they give BD a sound which is immediately recognisable as their own. Consequence Complex follows, an out and out face melter with the drumming almost unbelievable, it is so fast. Detailed time changes and memorable riffs emerge as the track develops, the solos still sharp enough to cut you. It is the next track, Unified where things really take a step up with one of the most stunning songs that BD have ever created. A brutal riff and blasting drums drive the track forward, the vocals guttural and insanely chaotic, huge hooks underpinning the chorus and solos pouring out from every side.
It doesn't slow down at any point; however what makes the album such a quality one is the ability of BD to create a moment of calm despite the maelstrom that they create around them. Inadequacy showcases a band anything but that, with a quite blistering bass delivery from Ridout, his lines ascending and descending all over the place, stomping you hard like a buffalo in a mud-hole. The middle section of the track develops into real old school stomping thrash for a brief minute before the pace accelerates allowing the guitars to shine; a brief period of respite then allows you to catch your breath before the charge recommences with a stunning piece of dual shredding. Black Hole Infinity is a mighty slab of death metal, yet retains a melodic element that makes BD that little bit more accessible than several of their older peers. The introduction of Ellis into the vocal fold has spiced up the delivery for the better throughout the album and having already seen BD perform a couple of these tracks, I can vouch for the live experience too. Black Hole Infinity contains some intricate breakdowns with subtle layered changes, all the while bound with the BD sound. Human Void has guest vocals from Aborted frontman Sven Caluwe whilst an all-star cast litter penultimate (and quite stunning) track The Image Faded. As well as an absolutely ball-dropping number of hooks and riffs, solos flooding this track, with some cutting edge axe work from guests Teemu Mantysaari of Wintersun, Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry, Andy James (Sacred Mother Tongue) and Chris Amott alongside the already flawless fretwork of Ellis and McMorran. This track is an absolute monster, groove coursing through its lifeblood. It is quite blindingly brilliant. Demons is a fittingly epic closing track, with Ellis’ vocals a neat addition whilst there are huge shades of In Flames cascading through the track, string sections and some beautifully crafted solos.
Bloodshot Dawn have provided a quite breath taking follow up to an outstandingly good debut album. They have combined power and brutality with technical delivery of sheer quality whilst firmly establishing their own unique sound. Lashed together with some intricate and quite delicious playing, this is an album that improves with every listen. It will be in my top ten of the year. 10/10