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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A

Review by Mike Korn

Following their last album Shovel Headed Kill Machine, which featured virtually an all-new line-up, the only thing Exodus really needed to prove was that they could come up with a worthy follow-up. Well, they've certainly succeeded with The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A (yes, I understand there is an "Exhibit B" planned for next year). This CD is a frothing mad beast just waiting to sink steel fangs into your jugular vein.

Original drummer Tom Hunting has returned to the fold and he joins a band much different than the one he left a few years back. The biggest change is the lead vocal department, which has been taken over by Rob Dukes. Dukes outdoes himself on his sophomore effort, totally trashing what he did on Shovel Headed Kill Machine. You can hear bile and hatred pouring from his mouth like the gushing waters of a flood. He sounds completely venomous, outstripping his predecessors Zetro Sousa and Paul Baloff in terms of sheer raw emotion. It is a tremendous performance from Dukes here. New guitarist Lee Altus also sounds more confident this time around and his soloing is sharper and more intense.

The album itself is just brutally heavy. It is not really a completely "fast" album, but it flattens everything in its path with irresistible force. The guitar sound is truly thick and massive and the rhythm section has no mercy. When the band does hit the gas, it's all the more effective. The songs here are usually quite long and involved, with the title track emerging as a real epic in excess of 10 minutes in length. Lovers of true metal will find a real smorgasbord here - catchy riffs, ripping thrash, melodic solos, angry vocals. It looks like Exodus Mk II is set to plunder and pillage for a good many years yet.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at
Track by Track Review
Call To Arms
This martial-sounding instrumental is just a warm up for the blitzkrieg to come and, as such, represents one of the few moments of mercy on the disc.
Riot Act
This kicks off with the kind of simple, "rolling" riff that was a trademark of the Shovel-Headed Kill Machine album. It's one of the shorter cuts here and just a complete musical steamroller. You can tell from the get-go that Rob Dukes is much improved over his previous performance. We get terrific dueling guitar solos from Gary Holt and Lee Altus.
Funeral Hymn
A long and bruising epic, this gives the band plenty of space to pound the listener. It starts with a crushing mid-tempo groove that plows you right into the turf and then continues to gradually pick things up a notch until a torrent of thrashing mayhem carries you along like a chunk of driftwood in a flood. There's some of that patented Exodus twin guitar melody in this maelstrom, too.
Children of a Worthless God
This bitter condemnation of Islamic fascism is perfectly accented by Dukes' scathing vocals. This cut allows a little more room for melody than the previous tunes and the result is one of my favorite Exodus songs ever. The cleaner vocals on the chorus are haunting and have an appropriate Middle Eastern feeling while the main verse riff is just pounding and super-catchy. The lead guitar work is very tasteful even though the tune itself is just brutal. This is thrash metal at its very best!
As It Was, As It Soon Shall Be
A furious bass/drum assault gives way to a super thick and meaty riff that has a sleazy, grinding feel to it. This is another one of Exodus' patented mid-paced skull crushers, this time devoted to exposing the idiocy of the current presidential administration. Though very heavy, this tune has more of a rocking feel, almost bluesy at times. "The oil fields of Iraq are running with blood / Another man dies as lies rain down like a flood".
The Atrocity Exhibition
On their much-maligned album Force of Habit, Exodus tried their hand at a really long epic, "Architect of Pain.” With "The Atrocity Exhibition" they head into epic territory again, with even better results. This monster is almost an album in itself. That catchy chorus riff puts chills up my spine, that's how perfect it is. The song switches gears about 5 minutes in and unleashes an entirely different theme that still kicks. It's like a song within a song, with both being excellent. Finally, the band returns to the original motif to bring this thrash opera to a stirring close.
Following up the last track is a tough job, but this tune pulls it off admirably. It's a lot like the material from Shovel Headed Kill Machine...just flat-out bulldozing thrash metal with an attitude so bad you can smell it from a mile away. This is a song made for all-out war in the pit.
The Garden of Bleeding
If the album has a weakness, this is it. Not a bad track at all, I just found it a bit plodding and monotonous compared to the rest. I can't doubt the sheer heaviness, but the riff quality is not quite as sharp and it seems overly familiar.
Bedlam 1-2-3
To wrap this sucker up, we have this pile driver. Short and compact, this is the kind of all-out thrash attack that always ends an Exodus album. It sounds like another out-take from Shovel Headed Kill Machine but with a lot of ferocity. Don't be put off by the slow beginning. This will take your head right off once it gets going.
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