Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine Nuclear Blast Records - 2005 If I would have been told earlier this year that Exodus would rebound with what could shape up to be the album of their career, following the recent loss of original members Steve Souza, Rick Hunolt, and Tom Hunting, I would have chastised you for teasing me, much like many classic thrash bands have teased their fans with promises of reunions and redefining new albums and failed to deliver on all counts; Nuclear Assault, with their newest, Third World Genocide, is an example of this. Exodusâ€™ newest, Shovel Headed Kill Machine, does exactly the opposite, delivering a slightly modernized and flawlessly produced thrash metal attack as evidenced on the soon-to-be Exodus classics Going Going Gone, 44 Magnum Opus, and Raze. Last yearâ€™s striking comeback album Tempo Of The Damned had enough glorious moments, including now-classics Scar-Spangled Banner, War Is My Shepherd, and Culling The Herd, to begin lifting the cloud of obscurity that has plagued the band since its inception, but alas the untimely quitting of longtime vocalist Steve Souza prevented this from happening. Fill-ins Matt Harvey (Exhumed, in Montreal at Saphir on November 9th and in Trois-Rivieres on the 12th as part of Metalfest, to be covered on www.qchc.com) and Steev Esquivel (Skinlab, ex-Defiance, sang for Exodus in Montreal when opening for Megadeth recently) failed to adequately replace the inimitable Souza, and Exodus went into hiding. But in less time than I have ever seen a band emerge from member-loss-induced hiding, they re-emerged, boasting an unreal new lineup including Paul Bostaph (Slayer, ex-Forbidden) on drums, Lee Altus (Heathen) on lead guitar, and Exodus roadie-turned-vocalist Rob Dukes; whose performance is quite possibly Shovel Headed Kill Machineâ€™s lethal ingredient. His approach is part Souza (after all, he still has to sing five albums which Souza fronted), part Phil Anselmo, and part fresh venom, which are exactly the ingredients needed to thrust Exodus to the forefront of a modern â€œmetalâ€ scene that has seen such recent surges in popularity. Dukesâ€™ vocals make the band listenable to people under thirty, which was once unpalatable considering the nasal, classic thrash screams of Souza and going even farther back (with the exception of his participation with Exodus for their essential 1997 live album Another Lesson In Violence), Paul Baloff. Gary Holt wrote the entire album as per usual, but the solo duties, shared by Holt and Altus, are truly a lesson in shredding that cannot be ignored. Even the more mid-paced songs like Deathamphetamine, Shudder To Think, Now Thy Death Day Come, and Altered Boy use every bit of space made available by the slower tempos to solo multiple times per song, and for Paul Bostaph to flash his always interesting percussive creativity, an opportunity not afforded to him since Slayerâ€™s experimental yet none the less evil 1996 album, Diabolus In Musica. The guitar tones on Shovel Headed Kill Machine follow religiously in Dimebag Darrellâ€™s footsteps, and when mixed with the evil harmonies and thrash framework as Exodus is so well known for, make for a musically evocative album that simultaneously carries irresistible appeal for heavy music fans of all ages, and from all generations.