When I heard Exodus’s Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A for the first time I was taken aback by the sheer quality; I felt at once surprised, delighted and genuinely excited. I was one of the fools who noticed that there was a new singer, that there was a new bassist and a new drummer when Shovel Headed Kill Machine came out and never got around to giving the album a listen. Then in early 2010 I saw the bands phenomenal DVD Shovel Headed Tour Machine and had my opinion changed, my appreciation for the band broadened and it was time to get their new studio albums.
If like me you are unsure about how much of the original Exodus remains in the band, about what the new singer is like and about how modern or classic the music is my advice is to throw away all your preconceptions and just listen to the album with fresh ears, because taken on its own merits, Exhibit A is nothing short of excellent.
Exhibit A is quite literally one of the best metal albums of the decade, it may even be the finest thing the band have ever written and any concerns outside of the music itself soon become irrelevant upon listening. What you get is essentially what you got from any Exodus record in the past; quick-fire raspy vocals over chunky deep riffs with plenty of very impressive guitar solos and on top of that, one of the genre’s most distinctive drummers. Rob Dukes is now one of my favourite singers, he does a fantastic job and suits the new music so perfectly that I now have no complaints that neither Baloff or Souza are singing.
There are a lot of modern elements to the music and the band don’t just repeat what they did on the eighties material, but rather than make the band seem like they are straying too far from the golden formula or betraying the original ideals it just makes the music sound vital, immediate and relevant.
The hands down, best track is the furious ‘Children of a Worthless God,’ which is fast, hard and memorable in the same way which ‘War Is My Shepherd,’ was only with an extra level of intensity and attitude. Other highlights include the ten minute title track with its crunchy guitars and grand chorus as well as ‘Bedlam 1 2 3,’ which is a little more diverse.
To sumarise, Exhibit A is a fantastic and excellent record that is not only a great Exodus album but a vital and genuinely exciting album for metal on the whole.