With the Big Four of thrash metal currently mired in irrelevance and resorting to dodgy political statements, ill-advised collaborations and endlessly trading on former glories, thank the Gods for Exodus who have been cracking necks and causing mayhem in the pit ever since their barnstorming comeback album Tempo of the Damned (Nuclear Blast) breathed new life into a moribund scene back in 2004. Ten years later they sound even more alive and angry on tenth original full length Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast), a record that takes no prisoners.
Bringing back vocalist Steve “Zetro” Sousa for his third stint behind the mic has proven to be a masterstroke with his re-arrival seemingly inspiring his bandmates to up their game and play as if their lives depended on it. Over eleven vicious tracks lasting just over an hour, Sousa’s trademark screech gives the songs a sense of fatal urgency and direction. The lyrics may cover the standard war n’ gore topics as before but with Sousa sounding so utterly pissed-off, they take on a new dimension of relevance. It also helps that guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus have written some of the best riffs of their careers while the thunderous bass of Jack Gibson and the relentless percussion of TomHunting ensure everything remains at a scorching hot level throughout.
With so many stand-out tracks it’s hard to pick favourites but the relentless barrage and gang vocals of ‘Collateral Damage’, the precision chugs and catchiness of ‘Salt the Wound’ which features a guest appearance from none other than Kirk Hammett and the blistering thrash workout of ‘Numb’ all take the cake. Boosted by a great production job that makes all the instruments sound loud, thick and in-your-face, Blood In, Blood Out is a fantastic return to form and proves once again that the old dogs know best and could even teach some of the young pretenders a few new tricks.