Review Summary: Exodus reassure us that they are still one of the major players in the metal world
Before I start, I suppose I should declare my stance on Exodus. I think Rob Dukes is pretty good, Shovel Headed KIll Machine was a decent album, but The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A disappointed me, the songs were too long, and plagued by the repetitive riffs that just bored the hell out of the listener. It made the long songs boring, and undermined the fact that some of the songs like "Iconoclasm" were actually decent.
Enter Exhibit B: The Human Condition, which although not quite being a follow up, definitely sets the record straight. Even though the opening song "The Ballad of Leonard and Charles" is seven minutes, it never gets boring, The bridge sections are interesting enough to not bore the listener - seems they got it right this time. "Beyond The Pale" is a pretty average track, but this is soon forgotten as soon as "Hammer and Life" comes on. A clear standout track, this could have been a "Bonded By Blood" track, and so the thrash assault continues.
About Half of the songs on this album are quite lengthy, just under ten minutes, but very rarely do the songs fall into the boring riffing sections that ruined songs like "Funeral Hymn". However, don't be fooled, This is far from a bunch of rehashed songs, "Downfall" is probably one of the best songs on the album, with an intro never heard on an Exodus song before. "Nanking" contains some interesting ambient sections that reminds me of bands like Testament or Annihilator, yet the really interesting thing about this song is that it's actually quite slowly paced, yet Exodus make it work.
Elsewhere, "March of The Sycophants" and "Burn Hollywood Burn" are pure thrash mayhem, and "Class Dismissed: A Hate Primer" is probably the heaviest song on the album. Rob Duke's vocals have definitely improved, and he now alternates between a Souza-like scream, a kind of sneer ("Hammer and Life") to a downright roar ("The Sun is My Destroyer"). Another thing that makes a welcome return is the gang vocals, which i missed on the last album, (see the bridge of the opening song), they give the songs much more punch. Gary Holt and Lee Altus deliver the riffs and solos, but take care to evolve them and not overuse them. Tom Hunting's drumming is still heavy as hell, while the Bass has its moments during the bridges and intros, as well as an actual solo in "The Sun is My Destroyer".
Lyrically, its the same old story of war, death, politics, etc. Whats better is that they seem much more focused and less one-sided than on the previous album, which once again got boring after a while. The album is not without fault however, Duke's vocals on "Democide" are pretty bad, while "A Perpetual State of Indifference" is pretty much pointless. unfortunately some songs still suffer from annoying bridge sections, but at least not to the extent to which the previous album did.
So, is this what Exodus should sound like? absolutely, will it silence the critics? probably not, but its still the best thing they've done for a long time. Those who hate Rob Dukes should avoid this, but those who accept him as the new singer, but were disappointed by "Exhibit A" will be reassured that Exodus have created an album that proves they are still one of the best thrash metal bands around.