Thrash luminaries Exodus are back to crack some skulls with their first full-length studio album in seven years, Persona Non Grata.
When I think of thrash metal, Exodus is one of the first bands that pops into my mind. An early purveyor of the art form from their Bay Area perspective, Exodus has released eleven albums over the years, counting the new one, and a barrage of splits, EPs, live albums, and compilations. They are one of my favorite thrash bands and you cannot leave them out of any conversation about heavy music. The band is Gary Holt (guitar), Tom Hunting (drums), Steve Souza (vocals), Jack Gibson (bass), and Lee Altus (guitar).
Persona Non Grata has eleven blazing tracks and an intriguing transition piece. The title track opens the set at high speed in every particular: guitar, bass, and percussion. Steve Souza pushes the vocals to edge of growl and strain, expressing deliberately the theme of the song and the whole album in tone and attitude. The lead break is a power tool pairing that destroys everything in its path. It is a great jump out of the gate.
The music speeds through a path of devastation for the next hour or so, each successive song building on the last. There were three singles released in advance of the full album drop, including “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves),” “Clickbait,” and “The Years Of Death And Dying.” Each of these song plants a flag for the album, but you can’t stop there or you’ll miss “Slipping Into Madness,” my personal favorite, and “Lunatic-Liar-Lord,” another one that is high up in the pecking order.
The album resolves on “Antiseed,” a track with a grim lead-in and a slow build that careens into an explosive expression of destruction. What a capper. For me, the new album is even better than the its immediate predecessor, Blood In, Blood Out (2014), and that one was a monster. Get your ears up on this now. Highly recommended.
Persona Non Grata is out today through Nuclear Blast Records. There are many forms to choose from, including the one I picked up, the retro CD longbox. I couldn’t help myself.