Nuclear Blast Records – 2010 – USA
In the absence of Testament, it’s Exodus who are the American metal scene’s de facto leaders. No other band today combines torturous riffs and ultraviolent lyrics with psychopathic relish like this quintet, who’ve shed every last vestige of their old-schoo sound for a grittier approach that puts their closest peers to shame. You can here it right away past the soothing acoustic guitar intro of opener “The Ballad of Leoanrd And Charles,” an immense seven minute diatribe about psycho-sexual crime and depravity that hammers your misgivings to oblivion. Yet depsite the band’s obvious gifts, Exodus circa 2010 stand at a crossroads: Either continue down the path of experimentation or stick to proven methods. Gary Holt and co. seem to prefer the former throughout the dozen battering tracks inside “Exhibit B: The Human Condition.”
While it’s a great album beyond doubt, “Exhibit B”’s ultimate flaw is whenever the band choose to stretch a particular peice for too long. This is what bedevils such scorching anthems as “Beyond The Pale,” “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer),” “Nanking,” “Democide” and this scribe’s personal favorite, the death metal tinged “The Sun is My Destroyer,” whose undead theme resonates with today’s generation of Twilight-fixated emo cunts. Sorry. Alright, so the point being made is Exodus should have trimmed the excess fat and stuck to convenient four minute thrashers. Brevity works best for the band and for proof just get an earful of the excelent “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” or “Good Riddance.” Even the rather cheesy “Hammer And Life” has the good sense to deliver its positive message in less than five minutes.
On all fronts however, Exodus are in the best shape they’ve ever been. Rob Dukes’ hoarse vocal delivery lends the band an extreme touch it could never have attained if Souza were still fronting. But let’s not fool ourselves; the mainman of Exodus is Gary Holt and the guy playing rhythm to his lead, Lee Altus. These fuckers are at the top of their game, delivering razor riffs and skewering gutar solos a-plenty. No metalhead is safe from their penchant for exquisite guitar pyrotechnics that will have you strumming the air in no time. Just to even out the praise, the rhythm section here is tight as well, especially percussionist Tom Hunting, who’s a veritable machine. Ignoring the filler, “Exhibit B” is a fine abum that will stand the test of time.