Exodus – Persona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast)Friday, 19th November 2021
The old business model of touring to fuel album sales, then get back in the studio to crank out a new album quickly, is gone. These days for heavy metal, bands can go on the road for an album for years – given all the markets globally that push demand for shows and festival appearances. In the case of Exodus due to guitarist Gary Holt’s active recording/touring duties with Slayer, the outfit also kept busy crisscrossing every territory that would have them – meaning getting back in the studio for Persona Non Grata wasn’t the priority. Nevertheless, the wait is more than worthwhile – as this eleventh original record illustrates massive inspiration and proper understanding of the thrash genre equals evisceration and obliteration for the listeners to enjoy again and again.
The five-piece know how to propel forward, sideways, and inside out off the main riffs, using all the stop/start mechanisms, rhythm tradeoffs, and gang-oriented vocals to flesh out the songs for ultimate aural consumption. The deeper listens convey a beefy Jack Gibson bass presence on the savage title track opener – while a punk-like, off the rails assault for “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” reminds ardent followers that Exodus can take some Pleasures of the Flesh/ Fabulous Disaster spirit and bring it to 2021 dimensions. Lee Altus and Gary Holt simulate trained sniper attacks of crunchy rhythms, maintaining a blend of sophistication and stellar speed/melody enhancement during their lead break opportunities. The stealth-like charge of “Slipping into Madness” as well as the neck breaking action throughout “The Fires of Division” two of many arrangements worthy of circle pit, stage diving approval. Tom Hunting deserves kudos not only for his first lyrical contribution to the band for “The Years of Death and Dying”, but his healthy approach to drumming that displays speed, dexterity, finesse, and old school groove charm – “Clickbait” and “Antiseed” diverse samples into his wide skills of percussion. While debate may still rule over who is the ‘ultimate’ Exodus singer – you can’t deny the snarl and rabid, wild dog attack of Zetro, never losing an ounce of metal spirit from first note to last.
Twelve tracks and an hour of good, friendly, violent fun to be had – Persona Non Grata should slot well into the classic catalog of Exodus records. The old guard still can teach those youngsters a thing (or two) about what thrash means to the fans of the genre – and hopefully inspire more to deliver quality records to the modern generation.