Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Blood In, Blood Out (2014)

Nuclear Blast

Metal purists will always insist that Exodus' finest hour is their 1985 full-length debut, Bonded By Blood. It's a monster of a record that has earned it's legendary status to be sure. There's even a retro-thrash band named after it. However, for this listener, Exodus' truly shining moment is 2004's Tempo of the Damned. In the last decade and a half of thrash metal, Testament's The Gathering is the only thing that even comes close, and that record will be turning sixteen before too long. With the return of vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza, the true followup to Tempo of the Damned has finally arrived in the form of Blood In, Blood Out.

The album's title is a bold one, coming on the heels of Zetro's return, which to happen obviously involved ousting former frontman Rob Dukes. Dukes did an admirable job fronting the band for nearly a decade, but having the guy that sang "The Toxic Waltz" back in the band is an exciting prospect. Fans couldn't be blamed for expecting a full-blown old school Bay Area thrash metal album, and for the most part that's what Blood In, Blood Out delivers, but there are a few surprises in store.

One of those surprises comes as soon as the record opens with "Black 13" featuring a guest spot from producer extraordinaire, and one of the last people you would expect to turn up on an Exodus record, Dan the Automator. He provides thumping industrial beats and waves of bubbling electronic noise to the tracks intro, before it descends into more traditional thrashing and bashing. The intro is reprised later in the song, however, bringing things full circle and showing how much of a true collaboration the track really was. Classic metal bands embracing electronics can go disastrously (See Morbid Angel's Illud Divinum Insanus album) but "Black 13" is a pretty great track.

Other guests pop up on Blood In, Blood Out who run in closer circles with the Exodus camp, but are no less exciting. Metallica (and original Exodus) guitarist Kirk Hammett drops a wah-heavy solo on "Salt the Wound", which isn't anything out of the ordinary from what you'd expect from Hammett, but seeing as he hasn't performed on an Exodus recording since their 1982 demo, it's a cause for celebration. Testament vocalist Chuck Billy (also a member of Dublin Death Patrol with Souza) offers some of his trademark bellowing roars on "BTK."

The bulk of the album is about what you'd expect from Exodus in 2014, which is to say fairly standard thrash metal, with some extreme metal tendencies shining through. Zetro's return brings a bit of the fun that was missing on the "Atrocity Exhibition" back into the fold, and Gary Holt (now also filling in for the late Jeff Hanneman in Slayer) is as much of a riff-master as ever. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Tempo of the Damned, but it is an excellent slab of thrash metal and one of the best heavy releases of the year.