About a week ago, I was sitting at home, just minding my own business, cruising around the Interweb, exploring for new Metal video releases, when I heard that familiar ping from my Facebook app. I looked to see what was up, and there was a message from our Commander in Chief asking if anyone wanted to review the new Exodus release. So, I waited for, oh I dunno, round nil seconds and responded with mine, mine, mine like those seagulls on Finding Nemo! So, here I am listening to “Persona Non Grata” for the twenty hundredth time, trying to string some level headed, rational words together that will truly and accurately reflect the joyousness I find in the excellence that I’ve been listening to.
Students, devotees, and disciples of Exodus will know that they have released eleven studio albums, including this one, in a career spanning over four decades. Since the 1980’s, they have not sold out, gone soft or lost none of the vein pumping, head kicking, horn raising, neck snapping Thrash Metal that they are synonymous with, and they are aging like a fine wine albeit blended with rusted razor wire and turpentine.
The problem I have now is, because the album has a runtime of around an hour, if I were to write a note about every track this review would be around twelve pages long. Suffice to say I’m going to focus on a few of the standout tracks. Let it be known, though, that doesn’t mean the tracks that I don’t mention have less substance or lifeblood than the others. So, with that, let us begin.
The first thing I noticed when I listened to the title track and album opener, “Persona Non Grata,” was just how good the chainsaw guitars sound. Powerful razor-sharp riffs combine with the venomous, snarling vocals from a certain Mr Steve Souza, but to steal a movie quote “you ain’t heard nothing yet!”
One of my favourite tracks is “REMF,” which is a groove laden, galloping riff fest with crazy lead work, where the riff and solos buzz around your ears like some pesky fly that just won’t relent. Overall, this track has a violent and vicious feel. Bloody ripper!
“The Years of Death and Dying” provides a chugging riff that comes together with a singalong chorus. This is gonna be huge when played live, particularly when the lead work kicks in. This will totally call to your best air guitar moves. “Clickbait” & “The Beatings will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” are probably the tracks that bring old school Exodus to mind with their hostile vocals, aggression, and just plain speed.
“Prescribing Horror” is all about the use of the drug Thalidomide and the atrocious deformities it caused to babies back in the day. The tempo slows; however, the powerful riff work and intense vocals create a murkiness and menacing feel, and to end it with the sounds of a crying baby only embodies the foreboding sound of this social catastrophe.
Now, the last track I’m gonna mention is the last track of the album, “Antiseed.” What a way to end an album! Full on insane guitar work that would require the most supple and elastic fingers. Uncompromising vocals that would blister paint, and percussion that drives the track like an ungoverned train carriage. Attitude plus savagery. Can’t ask for more than that.
“Persona Non Grata” is killer because it’s pure, genuine, fundamentally brilliant and, for me, the pièce de résistance performance by Exodus. I understand that some will think that at a run time of over an hour this album may seem a bit long. However, that hour will just fly by! As will all the other hours that you’ll spend listening to this real and untainted album. November 19 2021, a watershed moment in the history that is Thrash metal.