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Tempo Of The Damned
(Nuclear Blast Records)

In case you are going to read this, I strongly recommend you to start with the one above - colleague Laurent's crushing review on previous EXODUS mini CD. According to it, any Paul Baloff worshipper (and I'm proud to consider myself one of them) should have booed EXODUS the day they decided to go on with the band after his passing, but somehow I don't feel like it. Even with all due respect for good old Laurent. Who the hell are we to decide for the musicians when should they play and when should they stop doing it? "Bonded By Blood" is sort of sacred and impossible to top and I believe the EXODUS guys are aware of this as good as anyone else, but if they think they still have something important to say, why should we jump down their throats? Well, here's the next in line of EXODUS fresh starts, "Tempo Of The Damned". Of course, it couldn't be anything but another "back to the roots" kind of album, but, fortunately, Mr. Holt and friends had enough common sense not to dig too deep looking for the roots of their band. They turned out to be clever enough to get back to their Zetro era style, having left the godly earliest stuff they used to do with Paul to rest in memory. Otherwise it could have been extremely bad taste joke, no doubt about that. I guess "Tempo Of The Damned" must be something in the vein of "Fabulous Desaster" or "Impact Is Imminent", that was the first impression. Can't be sure, though, as I'm barely familiar with those efforts because my interest in the band (and not mine only) was seriously damaged by Paul's departure and "Pleasures Of The Flesh", while being a rather good album, happened to be simply overshadowed by much more convincing records released earlier the same year - "Ticket To Mayhem", "Taking Over" and "Protected From Reality" being the result of just a superficial search in memory archives. Anyway, the newest one is definitely EXODUS in style - it's decent modern Thrash, moderatly complicated and rich in details, graced with the excellent sound and unquestionable musicianship. Perhaps a bit dry when it comes to drive and a bit lazy when it comes to intensity, as "Tempo Of The Damned" turned out to be a mostly mid-paced one with occasional speed-up, but powerful and heavy anyway. Steve Souza's vocals have always been of that "love it or hate it" type and the latter option have always been attracting me more than the former, but still somehow they fit EXODUS' music quite well and it's possible to enjoy the final outcome regardless of any personal vocal preferences. On the other hand, his attempts to sing in more proper, melodic way are simply laughable, therefore no wonder those songs are the weakest ones on offer here. Ahh, now listen, finally I got to the most inexplicable phenomenon of this album. After a quite promising start, which included the absolutely great track 'War Is My Shepherd' - the neckbreaker extremely rarely met this day and age - and three other quite good tracks, all of a sudden something went terribly wrong and the following four tracks made me almost puke and my enthusiasm for this album was almost gone. Remember their names and avoid them at any cost: 'Forward March', 'Culling The Herd', 'Sealed With A Fist' and 'Throwing Down'. The only EXODUS album they would fit is piss poor "Force Of Habit" which was full of such dull uninspired shit. As a matter of fact, four pieces of shit in a row is enough to spoil any cake, you know. When the torture seemed to have no end and my patience was almost lost, then came 'Impaler', a very old track co-written by Kirk Hammett in the early EXODUS days. That couldn't go wrong, no comments needed. Saved for the end of the album was its title track which (at the moment surprisingly) was another high-speed neckbreaker pretending to the throne of 'War Is My Shepherd' as the best new EXODUS track. The race is over, what was it like? A promising start and striking finish, but what a poor trip in between... Almost half of the songs are simply unlistenable and one of only three great tracks dates back to 1982, so the final score doesn't seem to be too optimistic. Quite strange album all in all, moreover I wouldn't call this an absurd combination of two absolutely different kinds of songs an album in the first place. Those four tracks have found themselves here by some terrible mistake, I suppose. I hope so. And nevertheless, I urge you to give it a chance. Don't be stupid and don't let any "scene politics" fool you. You may like it or you may not, in any case that will be your own decision. Funny thing is I wasn't able to come to mine even having written all this and having listened to "Tempo Of The Damned" several times with all attention I could pay to it. Can't say I like it as it has many things I hate, and I can't say I hate it 'cause it has many things I like. Anyway, give it a chance and don't feel ashamed - Paul would have forgiven you... (I really have no idea what Laurent's and Timothy's problems with the new EXODUS stuff are - I mean, it is perfectly clear that the band won't do another "Bonded By Blood", just like SLAYER will most certainly never ever do another "Reign In Blood". BUT: to me the new EXODUS stuff is the best they have come up with ever since their (also brilliant) "Fabulous Desaster" record and it not only blows away almost every other half-assed reunion / comeback album these days, it also makes you easily forget about nonsnse like "Force Of Habit" or "Impact Is Imminnent"! Those were indeed verrrry poor attempts of EXODUS music! But as Timothy already pointed out: decide for yourselves, tastes are luckily different! - Frank)

Timothy Dovgy

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