EXODUS “Persona Non Grata”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Seven years have passed, the great wheel turns and EXODUS are back in action with “Persona Non Grata”. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I’m sure many are looking forward to this as much as I am. The last EXODUS album “Blood In, Blood Out” brought Zetro Sousa back into the fold and was seriously one hell of a thrashing blitzkrieg that exceeded my expectations.

To get right to the point, “Persona Non Grata” does not hit me with the same impact as “Blood In, Blood Out”. The anger and the thrashing is here in spades, but the songwriting doesn’t strike me as being as sharp. The tunes seem to step back to the Dukes era in terms of length and riffing, which is heard right off the bat with the title track. It sounds a bit unfocused to me, but definitely mean and nasty. A better track is “R.E.M.F.”, which is very much in the classic mode of EXODUS with a great catchy hook. Zetro sounds more like Poppa Smurf than ever on this record, with the nasality through the roof. He sure puts his heart into it, but I preferred the more measured approach of “Tempo of the Damned” or “Impact Is Imminent”.

The album does boast a fair amount of variety. “Prescribing Horror” and “The Years of Death and Dying” are chunkier and more deliberately paced crunchers. “The Beatings Will Continue” and “Clickbait” are more high speed and chaotic aggression. “The Fires of Division” is another hook-filled headbanging favorite in the style of “R.E.M.F.” while “Lunatic Liar Lord” and “Antiseed” are longer epics that feature more time changes and complex leads.

It’s a satisfying album but I would place it in the middle of the EXODUS pack. Considering the high level this band has operated at, that’s not such a bad thing, but it could have been better yet.