AlbumsNovember 29, 201111,567 views

Exodus Shovel Headed Kill Machine

Shovel Headed Kill Machine
01. Raze REAL AUDIO 02. Deathamphetamine 03. Karma's Messenger 04. Shudder To Think 05. I Am Abomination 06. Altered Boy 07. Going Going Gone 08. Now Thy Death Day Come 09. 44 Magnum Opus 10. Shovel Headed Kill Machine
2005 Nuclear Blast Records
Our score 9


When Exodus' and their comeback album Tempo Of The Damned arrived out of nowhere two years ago on Nuclear Blast, it was too late to salvage most of their fans who had grown up and moved on since their 1992 breakup. The album also came far too late following their hammering 1997 live album Another Lesson In Violence, after which white-hot anticipation began brewing from the prospect that Bonded By Blood-era vocalist Paul Baloff would actually record his second album with the band whose legendary debut he sang on over ten years prior. Had drugs not continued to be such an ongoing issue for certain members of the legendary Exodus, perhaps that album would have indeed been recorded, but when Baloff died from a massive stroke in 2002, drug-induced idleness ended up having the final say. With Baloff's death sadly being what the band needed to get their asses in gear, they recruited main Exodus snarler Steve Zetro Souza and recorded a fine comeback album in Tempo Of The Damned, with a studio sound that rivaled all previous albums, thanks to Andy Sneap (Nevermore, Earth Crisis, Stuck Mojo), who also produced Shovel Headed Kill Machine, albeit with a dirtier approach than its predecessor. However as the reality of rebuilding a reputation and fanbase essentially from scratch loomed, in addition to more rumors of drug abuse within the band, Souza abruptly left Exodus mid-tour. Fill-ins on South American and last year's Megadeth tours included Exhumed's Matt Harvey and Skinlab's Steev Esquivel, but neither were around to write and record, so for the first time in over fifteen years, the band was forced to find a new vocalist. Doing so was initially thought to be a monumental task ahead. Which brings us to 2005, the year in which only one original Exodus member remains in the band, yet simultaneously its talent meter has skyrocketed with the addition of Paul Bostaph (ex-Forbidden, ex-Slayer) on drums and Lee Altus (the recently reunited Heathen) on lead guitar. It is unclear how long this dream lineup will last. What is clear is the songs on Shovel Headed Kill Machine are the most focused and unyielding as they have been since their underrated 1990 album, Impact Is Imminent. And while the impacts of the two aforementioned Bay Area thrash gods are clearly felt from the first note of Raze, it's brand new vocalist and longtime Exodus roadie Rob Dukes who really bangs home every song on Shovel Headed Kill Machine in ways the band have never before been so fortunate for a vocalist to do. While still obviously yelling in the vein of his Exodus predecessors, Dukes' deeper voice has already begun recieving comparisons to Phil Anselmo. And on songs like "Now Thy Death Day Come," the band actually comes dangerously close to sounding like Pantera's "Sandblasted Skin," if it weren't for Gary Holt's rhythm guitar buzzing so loudly behind Lee Altus' traditional solos. His occasional growls are new for Exodus, whose former vocalists all possessed high voices and would have sounded like fools attempting such octaves. Believe it or not, he also sounds similar to Tom Araya in the pre-chorus on the tight thrasher "44 Magnum Opus." Thanks largely to his gravelly singing during the choruses of "Going Going Gone" followed by Souza-like screams, Dukes' ability to adapt to the classic Exodus sound in addition to finally giving their vocal area a welcome renewal is the icing on the cake on what could very well be Exodus' best record since Bonded By Blood. If anyone doubts Exodus' capacity for furious vintage soloing since founding member Rick Hunolt's abrupt departure earlier this year, listen to what Altus and Holt pull out of their hats on "Karma's Messenger," "I Am Abomination," "44 Magnum Opus," and "Altered Boy" for their flashiest fretwork. The mid-paced riffs on "Deathamphetamine," "Shudder To Think," and "Altered Boy," on the other hand, bring to mind the better tracks from 1990's Impact Is Imminent and 1992's Force Of Habit. In the eighties, when many thrash bands were putting out some of the best hand-drawn art as Municipal Waste did on their evocative recent Earache debut, Exodus had among the worst. The excellent artwork for Shovel Headed Kill Machine, while digitally-rendered to some degree, is symbolic of the vast overhaul they underwent in order to make this album possible. Notable mention goes to bassist Jack Gibson, one of the hardest working of his kind in the Bay Area who doubles up for renowned death metal band Vile. Bottom Line: The violent feel on Shovel Headed Kill Machine never lets up, and the constancy of impenetrable riffs is striking. No one expected Exodus to sound this good after losing three longtime members this year, nor did anyone expect a new album to drop just merely over a year following their last, which is why much had to be said about the unusual circumstances surrounding Shovel Headed Kill Machine's mere existence. With the dust supposedly having cleared for now, Exodus are back and stronger than ever.


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anonymous 11/8/2005 9:28:36 PM


Coley Thrash_ 11/8/2005 9:36:25 PM

Live. Long. Thrash.

lowercasejay_ 11/8/2005 9:49:27 PM

i REALLY need to hear this

Cory_ 11/8/2005 11:26:07 PM

Wrong cover art. And that WASN'T Municipal Waste's debut. I just HAD to point out a Gluck mistake.

Mike_ 11/8/2005 11:44:27 PM

Cory, THE NERVE! haha. I know they have a slew of smaller releases over the last couple of years, I was just missing the word "album."

bolognapony_ 11/9/2005 12:05:09 AM

eh...I don't know about 9/10. I'd be more comfortable with 7/10. Tempo is better than this one, IMHO.

ohiokillsyou_ 11/9/2005 1:18:56 AM

Good album.

yeast infection_ 11/9/2005 1:48:49 AM


Cory_ 11/9/2005 6:26:43 AM

They released the Waste Em All LP. Last time I checked, that was an album.

Arnold Rimmer_ 11/9/2005 6:35:07 AM

Lambgoat staff getting their panties in a twist. Handbags at dawn.

lefthandpath_ 11/9/2005 8:40:49 AM

This album is good, but its not really Exodus. When all your members are gone and your vocalist sounds completely different and your riffs stop sounding like true Exodus, its time to change the name of the band. Good album, but Tempo of the Damned still towers over this

omegaman_ 11/9/2005 10:26:32 AM

Yeah but Paul Bostaph is a bad mother f*cker, I can't wait to hear this shit.

Mike_ 11/9/2005 11:21:16 AM

If you don't release an album on CD in 2005, it doesn't count as an album!

ChemicallyimbalancedSloth_ 11/9/2005 11:21:49 AM

Awesome f*cking album

Kevin_ 11/10/2005 5:32:48 PM

His statement was technically correct, whether he knew it or not. He said "recent Earache debut" and Hazardous Mutation was their first record on Earache. Also, the CD being reviewed is also f*cking sick. W need more no-nonsense thrash. I mean, if a band is going to use a style of music from the 80's as their influence I'm glad that it's something worthwhile.

UrbanStrike_ 11/10/2005 8:55:25 PM

I don't know about a 9 I'd say 7.5-8.5

ggsdfgfsd_ 11/16/2005 10:57:33 PM


ggsdfgfsd_ 11/16/2005 10:57:34 PM


ggsdfgfsd_ 11/16/2005 10:57:34 PM


ggsdfgfsd_ 11/16/2005 10:57:34 PM


Rodney_ 5/30/2006 8:53:53 PM

I been listing to Exodus since 1985, seen the Exodus tour in 2006. One of the best Metal shows I ever witnessed. If you get a chance. go see them and you'll see what I mean