Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition
25 years of Exodus and we’re still Bonded by Blood, bang you head as if up from the dead, intense metal is all that you need!!
In comes Exodus’s sequel to their 2007 album The Atrocity Exhibition, Exhibit B: The Human Condition. This, like its prequel, is a concept album, and incorporates the same elements like lengthy epic songs and theme based song writing about war and death, as opposed to their traditional writing about violence and killing poseurs. What can be seen here is that as time progresses so does production, much to the dismay of old school fans who still prefer the recording quality of the eighties, it is believed that it has got something to do with “staying true to your roots”. But the production does not take away the conventionality of the music as Gary Holt delivers riff after riff of pure thrashing ecstasy.
The album starts off with The Ballad of Leonard and Charles, quite a surprise element in the intro, given the acoustic guitars quite opposed to their “pedal to the floor” approach with lightning fast intros. One minute into the song before the distortion kicks in, and the sheer joy of Rob Dukes voice, this album being only his third with Exodus. The good old bashing and thrashing is what you find in the second song Beyond The Pale. The song has quite a few beautiful guitar licks and mind bending soloing from both Holt and Lee. The line “I know not that which I’ve become Exhibit A in man’s atrocity”, is pretty thought provoking. The whole song is actually about murderers and the way they face the judicial system. Hammer and Life, the third song, has made itself quite the anthem of the album, being released quite sometime ago as a single, lives up to the expectations of any thrash fan, a standard straight forward 3 minute song. Class Dismissed, yet another epic track, stretching over 7 minutes, man didn’t these guys ever think it would be easier to write shorter songs. The quality of the riffs and vocals remains undiminished, however by this time the epic-ness of the songs seems to have become quite the cliche, bearing in mind the last album as well. Downfall begins with a melodic riff, that reminds you of the band Mercenary somehow, but the solo takes the cake, easily one of the best on the album. Post five minutes the track gets groovier, playing build up to the mad drumming that introduces you to the next track March Of The Sycophants. One of the songs on the album that you might want to skip, honestly, with nothing great to deliver. Nanking, another lengthy track that follows, gets groovy at points, for a saving grace I must say. Burn, Hollywood, Burn, the 8th track, makes a quick and exquisite impact, with sensational abuses aimed directly at Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus (who in reality do form a part of mankind’s scum, atleast in my opinion.) The song that makes quite the strong point and makes you sit up and think “Now why didn’t anyone else say that?” The song leads to Democide which has quite a middle eastern intro but a damn monotonous song with not much to it. The Sun Is My Destroyer, the 10th song is the longest song on the album, stretching over nine minutes. Dukes sounds a little more aggressive than necessary. A real tester of patience this one, heh, sort of like too many riffs piled up to make a song. This is followed by A Perpetual State Of Indifference, the shortest track, a relieving one too. An instrumental this, after all Dukes does need a break after spewing out so much hatred and dismay for so long. Good Riddance, the last track, and quite ironic in its name too, considering the impatient metal head who’s put himself through this album, that’s not me by the way, haha. The song is actually about the world ending, some catchy pentatonic wankery on this track and a beautiful acoustic outro, very well crafted, no better way to end the album.
The album over all has no stand out song really, Exodus seem to be lacking in the anthem bit somehow, although Hammer and Life seems to make the cut it doesn’t quite make the same impact as, well, say The Toxic Waltz from the album Fabulous Disaster, it doesn’t define Exodus’s sound, and definitely is not one of the songs that is likely to become a headbanger’s anthem. True that they’ve changed in line up as well as band sound but the basic element of “giving you the kick” is missing, and the lengthy songs that stretch over 7 minutes do this bit no good either. The album is produced very well and every instrument sounds just as good as the person playing it. The guitar tone does sound a little crunchy at certain points, but doesn’t really give you reason to complain. All said and done Exodus do live up to their standards and remain untouchable as ever as thrash gods, and leave behind a promise that they will stay so for a few more years to come, for sure.
I would like to dedicate this review to the memory of Paul Baloff, the late Exodus vocalist who was featured only on their first album Bonded By Blood. May he rest in peace, for as beautiful as Dukes’ voice maybe, his voice will echo for decades to come.