Exodus‘ previous album, Blood In, Blood Out was released seven years ago, in 2014. Later, Gary Holt went to play tours with Slayer, replacing late Jeff Hanneman, while Lee Altus collaborated with Heathen. And now, when Slayer suspended their activities, the time has come for a new Exodus release named Persona Non Grata. But was it worth the seven years waiting? Well, let’s see.
The first singles, “The Beating Will Continue (Until Moral Improves)” and “Clickbait” is “that one” Thrash Metal, which was expected from Exodus. The band hasn’t disappointed at all: fast pace, pretty dry guitar sound, aggressive riffs and great, shrieking vocals from Steve “Zetro” Souza. However, it’ll be a mistake to think that the whole album will contain only that kind of songs: Persona Non Grata is a diverse record and there are a lot of things there, which will surprise the listeners without going far beyond the genre.
“Persona Non Grata”, which opens the album is also contains mostly aggressive and robust Thrash Metal, where all musicians shine a lot: Altus and Holt’s technical solos, Jack Gibson’s great bass and Tom Hunting’s stunning drumming, which I’d like to emphasize separately. Drum patterns are really interesting and with Tom’s delivery they are really hold things together, like a spine. Nevertheless, Hunting gives place for all band members, highlighting his playing at some moments, while he could easily dominate in this album.
“Lunatic Liar Lord”, which seamlessly comes out from short acoustic instrumental “Cosa Del Pantano” (with some South America touches, of course), use typical Thrash Metal patterns also but at some point the tempo is reduced and the music sounds much more brutal, going to some Death Metal territoty; Souza even lowers his vocals, changing shrieking to low growls, while Holt and Altus competing again with their solo techniques. Both of the songs by the way are outstanding with their length too – over seven minutes each.
In comparison, “Elitist” is just pure aggression and roughness with simple, almost Punk riffs and the chorus with chanting almost goes Hardcore; sudden melodic solo fits into this track without any problem. However, speaking about melodism, “Slipping Into Madness” and “The Fires Of Division” need to be mention, with their melodic, almost Heavy Metal bridges and hooks. And if it can be somehow expected from “Slipping Into Madness” – the grim intro and bass, echoing the guitar line suggested some surprises in this song, then “The Fires Of Division” sounds like usual, rough Thrash Metal.
The only thing that can be somehow criticized here is the ending “Antiseed”. The music itself is good: a dark Groovy intro changes with fast-paced Thrash Metal and stays in this form until the end. However, the sharp ending leaves you with some feeling of understatement, so the ending of the album is quite illegible. Nevertheless, it can be ignored easily, especially against the background of the album.
Getting back to the question in the beginning of this review, was it worth to wait for Persona Non Grata for seven years – yeah, it definitely was. Gary Holt wrote this diverse and greatly balanced album almost by himself (“Sleeping Into Madness” was written by Altus and Souza and another two songs were co-authored). There isn’t some weak or boring moments while the sound remains about heydays of Thrash Metal – just listen to “R.E.M.F.” with its great chorus! So Exodus are fully back and clearly show that they have enough power and energy.
Persona Non Grata will be released on November, 19th via Nuclear Blast.
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