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Class 6(66)

Exodus: Fabulous disaster

16/04/10  ||  Habakuk

Introduction

It took me a long fucken while to write this review, just because this is one of these albums that simply sound great without you ever thinking about why they actually do. For this review however, I did so thoroughly, hence a never-ending writing process. “Fabulous disaster” is not my favorite album of all times or something, but it’s just an absolutely natural candidate for Class6(66), being from Exodus’ classic period and all – the band didn’t receive their reputation for nuttin, you know. This shit is quality and deserves to be dissected precisely. An’ here goes:

Songwriting

7.5. Without a doubt, this album holds some of Exodus finest moments. Most of the songs display great method-to-the-madness thrashing paired with catchy choruses and songwriting that does not revert to transparent fast-fast-fast-thrash break-fast-fast patterns. Exodus clearly didn’t believe in that stuff – unlike, say, Sodom – as it’ll actually be hard to spot a classic half time break on “Fabulous disaster”. However, “The toxic waltz” probably serves as the album’s overall thrash break. This song with its slightly slower mosh-friendly pace is where it’s all at, ladies and gents. Technically, these 4:51 minutes alone make a couple of retro-thrash bands completely obsolete, as they embody everything a thrash song should deliver. Too bad not all of the tracks are of that caliber. So while shit starts out in a fabulous way (ha!) with songs one to three, these are followed by the album’s low point (wait for it…), “Low Rider”, a cowbell-heavy War cover. The bonus track (AC/DC’s “Overdose”) shows that Exodus knew how to play a decent cover, but that first one is just pretty bland, and the album somehow doesn’t recover to the fullest for a while after it – “Low rider” is followed by “Cajun Hell”, which basically is the album’s “Brain dead”, “Like father, like son” that stretches some good ideas for too long, and the decent “Corruption” – however, it’s only with the last two songs that the band gets back to full speed. And instead of letting the door slam shut with that, the aforementioned bonus track holds its foot in the way.
So, 50 % of the songs are awesome, 40 % are solid, 10 % suck, and so does the album’s song order. And too many song intros.

Production

7. The production is alright as a whole with an overall well-adjusted sound (exception: the kick drums, which are a tad bit muffled), but it sure sounds dated. Good thing is, it actually gets better when played loud. As both guitarists assisted in the production, the emphasis is clearly on their instruments, with the guitars having a good sawing thrash buzz to them as well as perfect balance during the solos. The drums however fall a bit short with a rather soft sound, and – surprise, surprise – bass guitar is as low as possible without making the bass player leave the band in tears. So – guitar-heavy sound. It could be worse, by all means, thanks to what you’ll read in the next paragraph.

Guitars

9. Holt ‘n’ Hunolt deliver the fucken goods with ripping riffs, solid solos and other alluring alliterations. These guys breathe riffs. They even shake one out of their the sleeve that sounds better than what most other bands could come up with in their whole career during the last, almost inaudible seconds of the fade-out to “Open season”. Their style unites semi-melodic lead passages with nasty thrashing, often within the same passage or even riff, a perfect example being the beginning to “Open season” or the title track’s main riffs. The good thing is that they always stay on the nasty side of things, so you can play air guitar to this without fear for your sexual orientation. And from time to time they concentrate on effective thrashing (see: “The toxic waltz”) alone, playing riffs that’ll instill a very weird desire to jump into the next gathering of people with rotating extremities. Fun stuff all around and the main driver for putting this into Class6(66): Awesome thrash guitar playing at its best.

Vocals

8. The vocals by Steve Souza are on the thin line between annoying shrieking and actual aggressive thrash shouting, but they manage to stay on the good side – all the time, actually. Souza has just the right amount of pissed-off vermin in his throat to make this work. He’s pretty fast, too, and not only his unique interplay with the riffs during the title track shows how well he fits the band’s sound. Definitely a great vocal delivery and backed up by shitloads of gang shouts, which always works with me.

Bass

6. Audible from time to time, but doing not much more than following the guitars. That’s fine, Rob McKillop, you’re playing on an 80’s thrash album.

Drums

7. Tom Hunting is tight, hard-hitting and fast, but not overly imaginative. He’d for example play the exact same snare fill four times in a row accompanying some riff, which isn’t a bad thing per se as he keeps everything flowing well, but it’s not exactly something to go crazy about either. Anyway, he’s far, far from a weak spot in the overall picture and propels the thrash bullet that is Exodus just fine. He also plays a fair amount of double kick parts that add to the grit and heaviness of the band’s sound, but as I said before, they’re unfortunately slightly hampered by being a bit low in the mix.

Lyrics

5. Idiotic. In that, they feature some Good-friendly-violent-fun high points à la “Thrash like an ath-uh-lete” as well as abysmal missteps like the hopelessly over-repeated “Please Daddy, no more” line during “Like father, like son”. The latter are mostly found in those songs that are serious in their lyrical nature but somewhat pubescent in delivery, you know, political commentary of the “politicians take all our money” scope and stuff like “there’s a kick-ass riot in prison” and “child abuse sucks, dude”. Problem is, they lack the unwanted humor of bad English that adorns many of their outlandish contemporaries and hence stand alone in their odd immaturity. It works better when Souza sings about killing, nuclear war or moshpits, though. Curious, innit?

Cover art

4. The band in front of a TV set, pulling stupid faces. Looks more like a Tankard cover to me. It’s dark enough to not hurt the eyes, though, and at least it gives you an idea of what most of the lyrics will be like.

Logo

8. Pretty cool, old school and in an interesting color choice (see also Donnatello from the Turtles). Can’t really ask for more, and it saves the cover from providing total suction.

Booklet

5. Lyrics – how cool. Plus, an old review which is ridden with strange formatting and typos. The fact that its written by “B0rivoj Krgin” (sic) could explain that. There would have been room for more, but Century Media opted for making the last page completely unnecessary with yet another tracklist, lots of empty spaces and additional song info crammed into the bottom right corner in a font size no greater than 5, despite having about four times more room at their disposal.
What’s the opposite of “wow”?

Overall and ending rant

If you like Exodus, you’ll like this album. And you should like Exodus.
They have the skills and the spirit and are pretty awesome for long stretches, just unable to hold the top-notch quality for a complete album (worsening to only “good” quality) – even on “Fabulous Disaster”, which I consider one of their best works. Now I’ve seen “traditionalist” people bitch why for example Metallica got big while a band that started out similarly and evolved in a way that’s more true to their roots like Exodus remained second tier to this day. I’d say that’s because Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer for a certain period simply knew how to write a lot more memorable songs. It’s certainly not due to a difference in technical skills, and if you’re looking for great “raw”, pure thrash from the genre’s peak times that doesn’t concern itself as much with songwriting than rather with the power of the riff, “Fabulous disaster” is the way to go.

7.5

  • Information
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: Century Media
  • Website: www.exodusattack.com
  • Band
  • Steve Souza: vocals, guitar
  • Gary Holt: guitar
  • Rick Hunolt: guitar
  • Rob McKillop: bass
  • Tom Hunting: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. The last act of defiance
  • 02. Fabulous disaster
  • 03. The toxic waltz
  • 04. Low rider
  • 05. Cajun Hell
  • 06. Like Father, like son
  • 07. Corruption
  • 08. Verbal razors
  • 09. Open season
  • 10. Overdose