You cannot really put into words what Exodus has meant to Thrash Metal. Without their contribution, we’d have a lot of Heavy Metal thunder, but no lightning to ride. The band has had its share of ups and downs and only in the last half of their career have they even had the same lineup on albums more than once, as was this incarnation of the bad did in 1989. With legend, but problem child Paul Baloff dismissed after masterwork Bonded By Blood, Steve “Zetro” Souza had settled in and down as the frontman and vocalist. Band leader Gary Holt kept an iron fist on the writing in these days, and with good reason. His riff style and due diligence in songcraft helped give the band their pivotal third album, Fabulous Disaster (Relativity, Music For Nations). Continue reading
In a new interview, Exodus frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza says the thrash metal innovators will celebrate the bands 40th anniversary in 2019 with a series of shows in San Francisco. Formed in 1980 by high school friends Kirk Hammett and Tom Hunting, the band would go on to invent the style of thrash metal and put the Bay Area Thrash on the musical map. The band played a series of hometown shows last year where they brought up old members to perform, including Rick Hunolt and Robb Dukes. Continue reading
The past year for South Texas metallers Shattered Sun has been anything but dull. Being one of the hardest working bands has landed them onto the Rockstar Mayhem Energy Drink Festival’s side stage this past summer. They have been out touring behind their debut album Hope Within Hatred (out now via Victory Records).
They had just completed their first “real” tour supporting Testament and Exodus across North America, and unlike their previous DIY style tours supporting club sized acts, they learned quickly the wrong and right ways of surviving on the road.
“The last one we were with (Testament/Exodus) – that was a real get up and go,” explained drummer Rob Garza. “We were still learning and now we’re way more focused and way more on time. We’re trying not to get on anyone’s bad side especially we don’t mess up too much,” he said, about the quick learning curve.
Testament frontman Chuck Billy is no stranger to the Shattered Sun camp, as he is one of their co-managers from Breaking Bands LLC and has been mentoring the guys over the past year.
“[We’re] basically learning how to do things the right way. When we first got on the Testament and Exodus tour with them this past April, we were all fan boys over Testament and Exodus, but then Chuck’s biggest role in the band is as a mentor. He could just say ‘just relax…we’re all here as a team. We’re all family on this tour and every tour you’re gonna be on. These are your peers,’ “ he said.
“We’ve got him to calm us down the fan boys in us. Also outdoing each show – we had a decent show yesterday. Today we did better so basically we keep on pushing so we put on a better show every day.”
Already from the Mayhem Fest they have gone from performing in from a largely older crowd to a younger demographic that leans towards the newer style of bands featured on the Victory Records side stage.
“The guys and myself were talking about that yesterday. Even the bands that were on tour – no disrespect to Testament and Exodus – they’re more of our age group. You go with the Testament and Exodus and it’s strictly that thrasher crowd. There’s nothing wrong with that. On this one, you have that all around, different genres of music collectively. It’s a different feel. We like it. We’re digging it.”
While the band’s sound comes from the heavier side of metal and their band name is a modified version of an Unearth tune, Garza spoke about their range of influences that helped shape their overall sound.
“When we first started jamming, our guitarist Daniel [Trejo] named our band after an Unearth song ‘Shattered By The Sun.’ So he was really into Unearth and still is to this day. We all are,” he said.
“We try to stick with melodic metal and keep it thrashy, and we’re all fans of other genres as well. One of my favorite drummers and bands of all time is the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. I try to incorporate as much groove into our thrash beats. It’s a combination of a lot of stuff. It’s like ‘I was listening to this today. I want to try to see how this would sound on this song.’ “
“On this album, we tried to cover all grounds because where we’re from, everyone in our area is real biased. We’re not heavy enough for the hardcore kids or we’re not soft enough for the older crowd. We just wanted to make a CD and just bring as much of everything in. We get known as bands that plays a lot of different kinds of music. We just try to throw it into one thing so we try to cover everyone’s demographic on that one.”
Being on the road, Garza and the Shattered Sun members have experienced many different things but also being from a small Texas town, they also found new and unusual things.
“I believe it was on the last tour, we were in South Carolina and they were selling roasted peanuts. It looked weird, just there in a jar staying warm. Just small things like that that freak us out. But we Google what it is and say ‘uh ok…let’s try it out.’ “
“What I wanted to do when we were in Canada, I wanted to go to McDonalds and see if they had the Royale With Cheese. I didn’t get a chance to do that. I’m trying to cram a bunch of different things into my demographic right now.”
Plus the rare time off of the road has given them time to enhance their road home known as their van. While they have accepted the fact that they will be calling it home for the next year, they have slowly made moderations to it.
“This time we’ve actually built a bunk in our van. ‘OK what can we do differently?’ We’ll probably try to put another bunk in there, a shoe rack, because right now everybody’s shoes are thrown all over the place. We even have our inverter so we routed our power strips so we can charge our phones in the back. We’re learning tour by tour.”
All of the touring experience has now landed them an upcoming North American tour supporting metal heavyweights Soulfly, Soilwork and Decapitated. Garza himself is excited about the upcoming tour but has his eyes on meeting another drumming idol.
“I’m actually really pumped because one of my favorite drummers is Dirk Verbeuren from Soilwork. On our last tour, we had Gene Hoglan and Tom Hunting, and on this tour we’ve got Paul Bostaph and Vinnie Paul, and the next tour I’m going to have Dirk Verbeuren. To be on the same tours as these great drummers is amazing. I’m looking forward to picking that guy’s brain. Getting to tour with Soulfly – those guys are legendary. We all grew up listening to them.”
Learning from past mistakes, Garza admits he is trying his hardest not to have a Wayne and Garth’s ‘I’m Not Worthy’ moment on this upcoming tour.
“Deep down we have, but then it’s like be cool. On the outside, we’ve got to play it cool. On the inside, I’m crying a little bit.”
He admits there is one stop on the upcoming tour he has his eye on.
“I’m just waiting until we get to Milwaukee so I can say ‘it’s pronounced Mil-WAKEY’, from Alice Cooper on Wayne’s World Part 1.”
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 Tom Hunting 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.