By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
When you think of thrash metal, four names come to mind: Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, and of course, Metallica. They all helped shaped thrash metal into what it is. From the 1980s to today, they redefined how a metal record should sound and how fast it should go. While the Big 4 are the most important in the subgenre, there are unsung heroes who also helped bring thrash metal to the mainstream. I have covered a lot of them over the years from Overkill to Death Angel and Testament. There is another group that I have overlooked, but now I am giving them their due for Uncivil Revolt. They call themselves Exodus. Straight out of the Bay Area of Richmond, Cali, were true heavy metal pioneers. After many albums together along with hiatuses and break-ups, they have returned with their torturous follow-up to Blood In, Blood Out entitled Persona Non Grata. It marks Exodus’ third album under the Nuclear Blast label, so let us tune in to hear some new much needed mayhem.
What better way to start the album than with the self-titled track, “Persona Non Grata.” Between Gary Holt’s blistering riffs and Tom Hunting’s passionate drum fills, they both slay the intro as it wakes us up. Frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza is a snarling beast as his screams strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy (pop lovers, LOL). This is a killer opening tune. “R.E.M.F.” is full of old-school thrash metal fun die-hard Exodus fans have been pining for. Rhythm player Lee Altus crushes the main riff with tasty hooks, while Holt rips it on the solo with his ESP guitar. This song is soon to become a mosh-pit favorite. “Slipping Into Madness” is a groovy metal track that has a melodic flow. Zetro goes insane with the lyrics as his voice suggests he is up to no good. He continues to provide chaos with his vocals. Holt delivers another stellar solo that is a cross between thrash and groove metal. For me, the best part was the funky bass riff Jack Gibson lays down. Up next is the destructive force of “Elitist.” The song is full of attitude and adrenaline. While not the fastest song, it does still have enough oomph to kick down a wall. Holt sizzles on the solo as Altus flows gracefully through the beat.
“Prescribing Horror” begins with an eerie intro that slowly builds and builds into a more frightening riff. Gibson and Altus do an excellent job with the main beat as it creates an atmosphere of terror. Zetro gives his best vocal performance thus far on the album because I enjoy how he makes it sound sinister and malicious. “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” marks the halfway point of Persona Non Grata. The record’s leading single is a doozy. Crunchy guitar licks and heartbeat-pounding drumming make this tune suitable for fight clubs. Exodus gets in your face with a clinched fist, so if you get in their way, duck! “The Years of Death and Dying” is another crispy metal number where Zetro continues his grimacing ways on the microphone. He portrays the grim reaper as he comes for your soul. In the lyrics, Exodus gives a shout out to our fallen rock heroes like Prince, Jeff Hanneman of Slayer, Freddie Mercury of Queen, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey of the Eagles. This is my favorite track. We approach “Clickbait.” Hunting rages on the drums, going into a fury on the snares. It follows the same pattern as the previous two songs so there is not anything new. That being said, it still kicks ass as Holt, Altus, Zetro, Hunting and Gibson rage on about the media.
Exodus performs a short instrumental in “Cosa Del Pantano.” With the sound of crickets in the background, an acoustic guitar plays a twangy melody that is pretty psychobilly. “Lunatic Liar Lord” picks up where the beat leaves off in “Cosa Del Pantano.” Former guitarist Rick Hunolt comes in to lay down his razor-sharp soloing to go along with Holt’s stellar playing. Those two are toxic duo that go together really well. I see this tune as a vast improvement over “Clickbait.” Up next, we have “The Fires of Division.” The breakdown guitar riffs in the beginning pack a wallop. Exodus captures the divisions people are in today that is causing them to hate. As Altus chops up the beat, Holt smooths it out with his tasty solo. Zetro lets the hate go in his words, pouring out his malice that is pleasurable. Persona Non Grata ends with “Antiseed.” The buildup at the start of the tune makes the bite that much more sharp. Altus and Hunting are as one with the vicious beat, and Holt screeches and bleeds out a slick solo that would Kirk Hammett wish he could create. If they were going to end the record with any song, it is this.
I cannot believe I did not listen to Exodus before this album. Persona Non Grata does a bang-up job of launching the band back onto center stage. There are some predictable riffs that leaves little to the imagination, but they still slice through the eardrum like a hot knife through butter. I did the toxic waltz with this group, and I am absolutely going back to hear their classic stuff. Cannot wait for this rage-filled group to spew their thrash greatness on stage. With these songs, the beatings will continue in the pits. To Exodus, I salute you. Horns up!!!
Persona Non Grata
Slipping Into Madness
The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)
The Years of Death and Dying
Cosa Del Pantano
The Fires of Division
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