HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine
(Nuclear Blast)

With one vocalist dead and another one "You are dead to me," Gary Holt keeps the nightmare alive with the hiring of Rob Dukes who reminds one of the thrash purity of Peter Dolving returning to The Haunted. Bolstering this fake lineup of Exodus (the rest of the H team, Hunting and Hunolt are now gone) is veteran drummer Paul Bostaph, who also adds to the professionalism and pure Bay Area beauty of this album. And heck, Tempo Of The Damned ruled as well, so it's no surprise Holt makes us forget all the bait and switches. The guitar sound is mercilessly hard, hardened and tempered, Bostaph is recorded with edgy, technical cunning, and Holt's riffs possess an embattled critical mass that evoke thoughts of Nevermore, Machine Head, Annihilator and Destruction thrown into an incongruous boiling pot of metal mayhem. Still, could this be a friggin' Dew-Scented album or something from any number of baby bands sculpted by Sneap or Richardson or Bauerfeind? Sure it could.
Rating 8

U.D.O. - Mission No. X
(AFM)

OK, this isn't as bad when people go number a) or number b) or when people time-travel (think about it that's exactly what it is) to pronounce Brett Favre as "farve." But still, at minimum, Mission No. X is a revisitation to clumsy English by foreigners. Fortunately, U.D.O. aren't clumsy about anything else, turning in the expected and gleefully old school metallic, namely another Accept album by another name. It's kind of cool that an U.D.O. record isn't entirely and basically power metal. They do mix it up, and on top you get a growl like no other, Udo sounding solid as a rock, the same as always, expressive, in full control of his unique melodies. Highlights for me are the stomping Stone Hard (check out the anthemic, gangland chorus) and lead single 24/7, one of those infectious Accept-steeped cruise missiles that picks up a bit of AC/DC magic along the way. Stupid really, but what kind of world is it when you really can't rate that new Exodus any less than an 8, but this one no higher than a 7.5? I mean, both records possess exactly the same manner of strengths and weaknesses.
Rating 7.5

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