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Shovel Headed Kill Machine

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(50 Reviews)

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Description

San Francisco’s legendary EXODUS return with another slab of thrash metal, following up their ”comeback record of the decade,” ”Tempo of the Damned”.

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  • For those familiar with Exodus history.. the 2005 chapter in the never-ending Exodus saga finds the band without singer “Zetro” Souza, drummer Tom Hunting and long time guitarist Rick Hunolt. This means 60% of the band that recorded “Tempo of the Damned” and toured on 2004 is gone.
    I own a couple of audio bootlegs of the band playing European festivals on 2004 and to say they kicked butt is an understatement, so, I was kind of apprehensive about this album, not because of Zetro leaving but because the only remaining Exodus member is Gary Holt… and then there was one..

    I’ve never been a fan of Zetro’a singing. I believe if the band had picked a different singer after Paul Baloff left the band, their fate would have been different, so the burning question here is: is new singer Rob Dukes a hope for all those who couldn’t stand Zetro’s singing?

    Well, Maybe.
    In the album opener Raze Mr. Dukes sounds like a genetically engineered version of Zetro and Baloff singing..
    Things get a little more interesting in the following song, the awesome 8+ minute long Deathamphetamine.
    In some parts of the next tune “Karma’s Messenger” you can hear Mr. Dukes real voice coming out, and it (thankfully) doesn’t sound like Bon Scott. In “Now Thy Death Day Come” Dukes does his best Tom Araya.. a welcome change in singing styles.

    Does “Shovel Headed Kill Machine” sound like the old Exodus?
    Not exactly.. to me it sounds like an improved version, with a better singer and with Paul Bostaph’s amazing drumming (Dave Lombardo’s replacement in Slayer) how can anything go wrong?

    Regardless of whether this album sounds like vintage Exodus (which it mostly does) or not. SHKM is a truly awesome, pounding and intense thrash record, that gets better each time you listen to it..

    It may not be as good as Bonded by Blood, but then again, very few albums can top Exodus’ crushing debut..

    After listening to this album back-to-back against Exodus’ “Tempo of The Damned” and most of the top Metal albums released in 2005, i can truly say that Shovel-headed Kill Machine is a near metal masterpiece! This album in my book is one of the best releases of 2005!

    Posted on February 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Some say that thrash and speed metal died in 1989 following Testament’s “Practice what you Preach”. Wrong. Over the course of the last 5 years thrash metal has reared its head once again and is blowing up the metal scene. The new Exodus album is straight brutal thrash. New singer sounds great, guitars are shredding 100 MPH, old school metal with a brutal fresh take. Even as a hardcore 80’s thrash fan, I absolutely reccomend this CD to anyone who loves fast, driving rhythm guitar, pounding drums and screaming solos. Great pick. Grab this CD with the new Overkill and Testament’s “The Gathering” and help put thrash/speed metal back on the thrown where It should be.

    Posted on February 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • In terms of quality ‘Shovel Headed Kill Machine’ is only marginally better than the last Exodus album, but in terms of thrashiness it blows it out of the water. ‘Tempo of the Damned’ had too damn much groove, too clean of production, clicky, wussy drums and not enough straight head pounding palm-muted driving riffs to be true, classic thrash. It was thrash, but it was *modern* thrash. Not so here. This is real classic thrash. That’s not a recommendation in and of itself, necessarily, but it’s pretty rare nowadays, so much so that we got so many people imagining that whatever album or band is the rebirth of thrash. This album provides the clearest reminder that no, none of that modern, core or melodeathified stuff so many people have been ranting over is thrash. But, on the down side, this means we’re working in extremely well established parameters, were you aren’t gonna find anything new, and it’s gonna be pretty tough to top what came before. And it doesn’t, but it’s still a helluva good time and the thrashiest album of the last 10 years. (That I’ve heard, anyway.)

    The cover says Exodus, but we don’t have much of the same band, with only Gibson and Holt returning. Paul Bostaph fills in for Tom Hunting, and easily out does him. (Though this is partially the harder, heavier production on the drums that helps it) Lee Altus joins Gary Holt on the guitar, and this album has easily the finest leadwork of any Exodus album I’ve heard. Rob Dukes replaces Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza on the vox (himself two time replacement for Paul ‘Worst Singer in the History of Thrash’ Baloff) and is sufficiently competent, if not especially remarkable. He does a kinda half-bark half-growl, which is acceptable, but not very dynamic. He’s nothing for melody, but has got aggression done pretty well.

    The overly clean and sharp production of ‘Tempo of the Damned’ has been toned down a bit, still plenty clear but a bit more pushed together with a really punishing guitar tone. Now, this isn’t to say there was anything horribly wrong with the TotD production, this album’s is just about ideal. Well, I think the guitars could use a little more high end, a little less sludge, but it’s totally nitpicking at this point. Also, the lyrics aren’t as cringe-inducingly juvenile as they were on the last album. They’re cliched, for sure, but these are good cliches, and are mercifully free of the ‘clever’ puns and parodies that were common on TotD. Well, it still has some, actually, but they aren’t nearly as lame.

    The album opens with the weakest track. ‘Raze’ has decent vocals and a passably catchy chorus, but the verse and chorus riffs are weak as hell. Still, it’s more than passable. ‘Deathamphetamine’ is the strongest track, and is a beautiful example of the sorta thrash epic that ‘Forward March’ wasn’t. Good, extended intro, tons of riffs and some really stunning lead work, easily the best on the album. ‘Karma’s Messenger’ has a groovier chorus, but it’s real catchy and fits in with the thrashing verses nicely. It’s also got a great middle break, with shrieking, harmonized guitars over a speeding drumbeat. And, frankly, other than that it’s tough to come up with any real standout tracks. Just pure driving thrash from beginning to end. It is somewhat mid paced fairly often, but it never moves into groove-thrash territory. Just solid riffs, solid leads, passably interesting choruses etc.

    This is as thrash as metal gets, and probably twice as thrash as anything that come out in the new millennia. If that’s what you want, you won’t be disappointed.

    Posted on February 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Hey, wouldn’t it be great if Kirk Hammett of Metallica realized that his band had literally choked on their own ’superstardom’ and rejoined his ORIGINAL bandmates, Exodus, who appear to be only getting better with age. That is, if Metallica’s demise hasn’t sapped him of his once excellent guitar playing ability. With the departure of Rick Hunolt, Steve Souza and Tom Hunting leaving guitarist Gary Holt as the sole original member, Exodus is now somewhat of a partial ’supergroup’ with Lee Altus (of Heathen) and Paul Bostaph (of Slayer and Forbidden). Holt and Altus definitely click on the dual guitar attack. New vocalist Rob Dukes sounds a little high-pitched at first (as evidenced on ‘Raze’) but settles in nicely as the album progresses. Standout tracks include ‘Deathampthetamine’, ‘Karma’s Messenger’, ‘Altered Boy’ (a cool pun on ‘altar boy’ attacking pedophile priests), ‘Going Going Gone’ and ‘.44 Magnum Opus’, but really I like ‘em all.. So I’d say that that this version of the ‘Exodus lineup’ is an interesting one, but that does not take away from the fact that the latest album is noticeably more brutal than the previous ‘Tempo Of the Damned’, also a personal favorite. So Kirk, what do you think of coming back to where you started. At this point Exodus is a brutally unstoppable thrash machine. But once again, I’m just wondering how a guitar duo of ‘Holt and Hammett’ would hypothetically sound like today if they were to re-unite. Anybody ever thought of that? An awesome release!

    Posted on February 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • (4.5 stars)

    The sticker on the cover of Exodus’ latest disc, “Shovel Headed Kill Machine,” brags that this is the “heaviest and meanest album of their career.” This statement is furthered by some rather graphic cover artwork (which is a depiction of a futuristic, bloodied tank shooting while driving over skulls). And from the moment the opening track’s punching riffs and pounding drums kick in, the listener knows that the sticker is probably true.

    Newcomer Rob Dukes’ vocals (which wouldn’t be out of place on a Kreator album) are only so-so, but there’s enough stellar musicianship to make up for that small flaw. Exodus’ tenth album is full of dual guitar shredding (fiery riffs, smoking leads, and extended, wailing, Judas Priest-y solos), and fast, skillful drumming (by former Slayer skinsman Paul Bostaph).

    “Deathamphetamine” features fast drumming which is complimented well by blowtorch, rapid-fire guitars, and a breakneck tempo change. Tracks three through six are fueled by catchy chug and churn riffs and thumping drums (plus track three has a long, four part guitar solo), and “Going Going Gone” has a pounding double bass as well as a great, memorable, shout-along chorus (which makes this song probably the catchiest on the album). Next, “Now Thy Death Day Come” includes more pulverizing guitar and drum work, and “44 Magnum Opus” is capped off by a searing solo. Finally, the album ending title cut is another scorcher, with a rocketing beat and still more propulsive, bullying riffs.

    So, it’s good to hear that Exodus have overcome losing three band members to release a new album. But it’s even more exciting that this twenty year old band is, clearly, still at the top of its game. Plus, with all of the thrash imitators flooding the market today, it’s downright refreshing to hear a slab of sharp, genuine, blistering speed metal. And, as another reviewer said, if you have nostalgia for old-school metal from the 1980’s, “Shovel Headed Kill Machine” was made for you.

    Posted on February 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now