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Shovel Headed Kill Machine
(Nuclear Blast Records)

I'm still here in shock of having heard of people over the past year who were dumb enough to say that "Tempo Of The Damned" was an album nearly as killer as "Bonded By Blood" or simply saying it was a great album! And now here comes the new EXODUS with a seriously revamped line-up to the point that it could have been called the GARY HOLT PROJECT. Having worshipped EXODUS from 1983 'til 1989 and seeing the brilliant musicians involved in this new album, I still had some hope that Holt would finally work his ass off and leave those crappy AC/DC structured / sounding tunes behind. And while being THE ALBUM one would expect from a band like EXODUS, this new one is finally way superior than its totally awful predecessor. It starts with 'Raze', a typical AC/DC sounding tune that could have been written in one minute, nothing to break your head on and it's hard to find a worse opener. Somehow there's some overtones reminiscent of 'The Last Act Of Defiance' stamped on it, not the best thing to remember. Still at one point comes Lee Altus' lead and it's certainly the moment that has to be heard, killer. 'Deathamphetamine', after a not so hot beginning (why the hell those three cent bass lines were given so much place on that album! Unreal!), gets the ball rolling with an inspired main riff on a quite fast tempo. The whole song doesn't shred because some parts are just way too long and boring (like after the first lead) but it's okay. The new singer, while not being a new Baloff or an ass kicking one does an okay job with a tone being very similar to Zetro most of time except that it's not so similar to Bon Scott thankfully. 'Karma's Messenger' is at this point the best EXODUS tune, being very reminiscent of 'Til Death Do Us Part', ferocious / controlled Thrash but could have been way better without an overlong middle part. Once again excellent lead work here courtesy of both players this time. 'Shudder To Think' starts with Nu Metal overtones and is based on simple riffing that has nothing to do in EXODUS, reserve this to PANTERA / SLAYER and crap like this, pure crap! Thrash has never been about bullshit like this. 'I Am Abomination' while being not constructed on the same tempo is just as awful, cheesy two cent riffs all the way. Even the worst Thrash band around wouldn't have the guts to come up with such crap, but Mr Holt did it, why? Why? It's not like EXODUS had been a 9th rate band right from the start. Shit they have released two awesome records and a good one ("Fabulous Disaster") and Mr Holt is not able to write real stuff anymore and gets reduced to write such crap? Totally surreal! Then comes the piece of resistance of this album as far as I'm concerned, 'Altered Boy'. Sure, back in '86 or so it would have been considered pale compared to the stuff from back then but in these days where it's so hard to find a good EXODUS penned song. Yeah 'Altered Boy' has that vicious riff right from the start that gets behind your skin and gets your head moving, now that's the last I expected from EXODUS!!! Still Holt hasn't forced himself much as the music during the verses is just so and so (downtuned bullshit). In 2005 a killer track for EXODUS, in 1986 it would have been okay. Got it?! Oh I know it's damn easy to label everything as killer simply because the name EXODUS or KREATOR or DESTRUCTION is stamped on a record but I simply don't come from that school of thinking. 'Going Going Gone' (what a song title!) is a fast typical EXODUS cruncher which sounds like it comes from the "Fabulous Disaster" sessions, nothing special but okay. 'Now Thy Death Day Come' (does EXODUS turns into a Death Metal band with such titles one can wonder) is another fast paced tune but being based on a total downtuned approach, the song doesn't rip the way it should have. Fortunately there's a cool middle part based on a medium tempo that save it from being nothing but a filler, add to that a real cool lead from Mr Altus again - the true star of the album despite the lack of time he had to work out his leads. '44 Magnum Opus' is another fast scorcher (yeah a good dose of speed has been added on this record) but much like 'Raze' or 'Now Thy Death Day Come', it simply goes nowhere because there's no strong driving riffs here, just your typical AC/DC on Thrash (downtuned) that Holt writes for years now, awful. The record ends with the title track which turns out to be another fast number!! But again it fails to impress because again it's Thrash for the sake of it that is delivered without any thinking of the riffing. Where are those godly 'Parasites', 'Pleasures Of The Flesh', 'Chemi-kill' riffs? I don't ask Gary to come up with CYNIC or ATHEIST type of ultra technical stuff, but to write stuff that has sense, vibe, hooks in other terms quality stuff. Now you will ask, what about Bostaph? Well his drumming is certainly the biggest disappointment here because his work is nowhere as mind blowing / shredding as what he did so fuckin' perfectly with FORBIDDEN and SLAYER. Just your typical Thrash drumming here and nothing else. I guess Paul needs pressure to come up with the type of awesome / godly work that has been witnessed in the past. Too bad being the huge Bostaph fan I am for years now. So as you can see there's some enjoyable stuff on the new opus but as a whole EXODUS again fails to deliver excellent quality Thrash. If you like Thrash for the sake of it, get it but if you are after something else then it's again nothing for you. (I not necessarily disagree with a lot of the criticism, but would even go one step further by saying that "Shovel Headed Kill Machine" is a totally uninspired, far too long record, with a totally faceless new vocalist. Technically very well executed, but rather boring as a whole, with the best moments being the often recycled sounding riffs from the past. Gimme "Tempo Of The Damned" instead! - Frank).

Laurent Ramadier

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