Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Exodus ~ Shovel Headed Kill Machine

(Click on heading to visit official website)
Style: thrash
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2005
Home: San Francisco, California

Members: Rob Dukes ~ vocals
Gary Holt, Lee Altus ~ guitars
Jack Gibson ~ bass
Paul Bostaph ~ drums


Some bands are made to headbang to. They're not a good litmus test when it comes to picking apart music & lyrics or discussing musical progressions & exploration. They probably have something to say for the hardcore fan giving them more than a casual listen, but for most of us some bands are just great for turning out some classic 80's thrash metal made to clobber. Their job is to clobber & they do it well. The end. No more need to be said. Exodus is one of these bands. For those unfamiliar with them they're one of the early thrash bands & fathers of the San Francisco thrash metal scene. They should be much bigger than they are, but then came a band named Metallica & clobbered the clobberer. Metallica has since changed the sound of thrash & reached annoying heights of success, while Exodus have kept to the same fierce guitar onslaught as though nothing has changed & have suffered commercially continuously. Exodus was never really forgotten by fans & have inspired many thrash devotees ... but in the mainstream they're just a forgotten band on the timeline. The irony is that their original guitarist, pre-debut album, is future Metallica clobberer Kirk Hammett. Is this Hammett's Megadeth moment against his ex-bandmates? By the time their debut was released, delayed from business trouble, they may have been the father of the scene but Metallica was the untouchable king & that was the end of that. Exodus would go through many line-up changes, including bringing in Testament vocalist Steve Souza & Anthrax drum tech John Tempesta. But, bad production, weak songs, bad reviews, trouble with touring, lots of business problems & everything a band couldn't want meant that by the time of grunge Metallica continued to conquer the world providing a heavy metal alternative to Seattle, while Exodus called it a day in 1992. A decade later the debut album line-up reunited & continued until the founding frontman's death in 2002. The band now fell to one time Hammett dueling guitar partner Gary Holt's desires to keep the band going. He brought together some past members to record Exodus's sixth album. It was an honorable & respected return & one of the better albums of their career. This long overdue Exodus, reunion mach II, was finally putting out the music they should have put out two decades earlier. Exodus wouldn't vanish this time around, though they'd still be plagued by line-up troubles, but at least they could finally let the music speak for itself & their legacy. It's interesting to catch this band on this second coming, or more properly third coming. Their mach II reunion second album Shovel Headed Kill Machine features Holt with a bunch of new faces: new vocalist Rob Dukes, guitarist Lee Altus from thrashers Heathen & drummer Paul Bostaph of Slayer & Testament. This would actually be Bostaph's only album with Exodus. So many bands today have reunited & reinvented themselves with new faces. Many bands have largely improved. They don't sound anything like they once did & its hard to call them the same name, but the music is good. But, Exodus is an interesting odd duck. Here they are now well under way of a second reunion, mostly a new band though these new hats are brought in from the thrash history books so talent & creativity is no problem. But, nothing has changed musically. From the cover art to the sound, maybe the production values are better, but this is as straight forward 80's thrash as it gets. While on one hand this might seem boring, how far has the genre moved musicially in the ensuing years, on the other hand the only groups still playing the class thrash sound are second & third generation bands. The original thrash kings have long changed their sound. Metallica doesn't even know what their roots look like, even when they try to look. This is a fascinating step back in time by folks who were there, never had much luck with changing styles so aren't doing it now, for those who want to headbang with abandon in the classic way. It's a good feeling. It's a good & fierce flashback. This album would also set the stage for many great albums to follow. Time travel is possible.

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