Exodus, "Shovel Headed Kill Machine"
From the opening, snarling notes of "Raze" to the closing title track's last devastation notes, Gary Holt and the rest of the modern-day Exodus have stormed back with Shovel Headed Kill Machine, determined to show that despite shuffling lineups, Exodus is still the best thrash band in the land. Hot off the heels of 2004's Tempo of the Damned,
Riff-meister Holt returns this time alongside Jack Gibson replaying his role on bass. Other than that, Exodus is fresh with new blood: Paul Bostaph (Slayer, Forbidden) handles drums, Rob Dukes takes over vocal duties, and Lee Altus (Heathen) jumps onboard alongside Holt on guitar. And whether these boys are blazing away on the fast-then slow-then even faster tempo "Deathamphetamine" or blazing along at breakneck speed on "44 Magnum Opus," Exodus shows that they still know how to write blistering thrash metal, even 20+ years after the band's initial conception. Packed with similar production to Tempo of the Damned and a slightly faster overall feeling than it's predecessor, Shovel Headed Kill Machine will fit in alongside the last Exodus record and the small handful of other thrash metal classics from the 80s and early 90s. "Shudder To Think" and "Altered Boy" are the closest to Tempo-worthy tracks, each featuring a razor tight rhythm plodding along and half the speed of Exodus' faster works. With some killer cover art and a truly pissed off nature, this record will undoubtedly reach a good number of year end lists.
While the album looses a little steam in the middle due to some more mid-tempo songs, it is also a welcome addition, since oftentimes thrash bands suffer from too many songs that sound too alike. Exodus mixes it up with a few of each, although much most of the album's 10 tracks fly by at the same sonic speed the band has been synonymous with. With a record like Shovel Headed Kill Machine on their shoulders, former Exodus founder Kirk Hammett should be beating himself over the head with the Grammy awards he's won in Metallica. His band has all but gone down the shitter, while Exodus is a band that is still going strong, years after many of its contemporaries lost their way or that are simply staying together for nostalgia's sake. At least Exodus has the music to back up the continuing need for speed.