Review Summary: Part two is never AS good
Steve Souzas' return to Exodus took me and a lot of other people by surprise. It has been over ten years since the bands last studio album featuring Steve and seeing how quickly they replaced him with now ex-member, Rob Dukes I honestly didn't expect to see him return at all again.
Not that I'm complaining though, honestly I've always preferred Souza over the other singers that Exodus has had during the course of their 30 plus year career, simply because of personal taste. In saying that though, I can absolutely understand why people hate his "Bon Scott" vocal style as it can be overly gritty and strained at times.
"Blood in Blood out" is Exodus' 10th studio album and, Coincidence or not, has a lot in common musically with their last album with Souza, "Tempo of the damned". Where as the Exhibit albums experimented with progressive elements this album and tempo both focus more so on full force thrash, however this release still contains some of the progressive changes found on the bands last two releases, just to a lesser extent.
The album starts off with the track Black 13 which features a one minute intro by Hip Hop producer "Dan the Automator". This intro took me by surprise and felt like a breath of fresh air to hear this open an Exodus album as it has an almost industrial/hip hop feel to it. But of course this is but the intro to the album, the other hour of the record is all about thrashin'. Now here's where the main difference to Tempo of the Damned comes in, Quality. Over all this album doesn't stand out as much as Exodus' other work despite the fact that there are a few great standout tracks.
The first half of the album is definitely surperior to the second with tracks like "Collateral Damage", "Blood in Blood out", "Body Harvest" and the previously mentioned "Black 13". "Salt the Wound" is another standout track that sort of marks a milestone for the band as it's the first track to feature ex-guitarist Kirk Hammet of Metallica fame since the bands incarnation with Kirk playing a rather memorable solo. The other guest on the album is Chuck Billy of Testament, lending vocals to the track B.T.K. Unfortunately this track doesn't hold up as well as the previously mentioned song, it probably didn't help that Chuck doesn't do much at all on this track as he is only featured in the chorus singing "B.T.K".
The next two tracks, "Wrapped in the Arms of Rage" and "My Last Nerve" are both fairly forgettable tracks apart from the "Iron Maiden" style guitar interludes in the previous song. "Numb" fairs a lot better musically with it's interesting verse riffs and punk inspired bridge, although it contains some laughable lyrics at times. "Honor Killings" starts of fairly ordinary but the riff changes throughout the song help it redeem itself towards the end showing that Gary Holt can still churn out some interesting guitar parts.
But the albums crowning achievement is without a doubt the closing track "Food for the Worms". On top of being the fastest track on here it also contains the most interesting and memorable intro riff. It's also Souza's most varied and memorable vocally on the album with his use of semi-death growls and vocal layering. The outro to the track is also interesting due to it just kind of fading out and leaving a minute of guitar feedback and sound effects to wrap things up.
So how does this album hold up over all" Quite well actually. Although I will admit the standout tracks on here (Excluding Food For The Worms) are all not as memorable as previous Exodus songs of late it's still a very solid album with a couple of minor hiccups. I recommend this to Exodus fans and fans of thrash metal in general, however if you're new to the band I'd start off with "Tempo of the Damned" if you're looking for a more hard edged Exodus or any of their 80's albums for the classic thrash Exodus.
Stand out tracks:
Food For The Worms
Blood In Blood Out