Exodus’ Third Album “Fabulous Disaster” Turns 30

    You cannot really put into words what Exodus has meant to Thrash Metal. Without their contribution, we’d have a lot of Heavy Metal thunder, but no lightning to ride. The band has had its share of ups and downs and only in the last half of their career have they even had the same lineup on albums more than once, as was this incarnation of the bad did in 1989. With legend, but problem child Paul Baloff dismissed after masterwork Bonded By Blood, Steve “Zetro” Souza had settled in and down as the frontman and vocalist. Band leader Gary Holt kept an iron fist on the writing in these days, and with good reason. His riff style and due diligence in songcraft helped give the band their pivotal third album, Fabulous Disaster (Relativity, Music For Nations).

    After the uneven Pleasures of the Flesh, Holt bucked down on their writing a bunch. It’s not that POTF was a poor record it just wasn’t up to the Exodus standard they had set on their debut. While Slayer and Metallica were already nerding out with their prog phase (no doubt trying to keep up with Megadeth) Exodus chose to stay with their roots like Anthrax and Overkill and keep it old-school. And honestly why try to mess with the formula when you had the holy trinity of thrash mortar in guitarists Holt, Rick Hunolt and drummer Tom Hunting in the fold. The album is nearly an hour long but flies by on the power of chugging riffs and smashing crossover beats.

    “Am I my brother’s keeper?’ It’s an ominous start as Exodus albums go, opening track. ‘The Last  Act of Defiance’ is definitely a hot table setter as a lead track. Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, and Sacred Reich had a lot of thoughtful, political thrash down cold by now. So the anti-prison system anthem, seen up close by the band in the Bay Area, was a topic you could sink your teeth into. The title track is next and it is dizzying and great! The first minute alone has five different riff motifs, all played to thrash perfection before finding a lasting groove. Zetro was right at home here on these opening tracks.

    “Flailing round and round

    And you’re injury bound

    Waltz it up!

    The pit is it!”

    We could write an entire feature about the importance of ‘Toxic Waltz’ for Exodus and metal overall. One of the best metal anthems ever and definitely on the Mount Rushmore of songs about moshing. Deadly serious riffage, gang vocals, sick beats, and an amazing chorus. The song was even a minor video hit on MTV, gaining steam on Headbanger’s Ball, just after the debut of Metallica’s ‘One’ video. Hell, the song even popularized “Munch”, short for Butt-Munch, as a clean-sounding diss four years before anyone ever heard of Beavis and Butthead. The ending measures of the track are some of the heaviest and fun moments in heavy music history. Arguably, ‘Toxic Waltz’ is still the best-known song by the band around the world, despite their debut album having a few more superior cuts.

    Countless bands, especially bands from California have cover’s War’s ‘Low Rider’ as if War’s doesn’t have a half-dozen other very worthy songs. A fun cover for sure, that was also a surprising minor hit on rock radio, due to some blazing Holt/Hunolt guitar solos.

    Back to the creative and coolest parts of this album: ‘Cajun Hell’ still holds up as unique for the band. Bluesy slide guitar, harmonica, twangy riffs, give way to some real Southern metal. This song rips without feeling derivative and cheesy at a time when the actually NOLA metal scene was just beginning, 2,500 miles away from the Bay.

    “Like Father, Like Son’ is heavy as hell. Headbanging riffs and more great vocals carry this tune. ‘Corruption’ has a chopping lick that was straight out stolen by thrash, industrial and even Nu-metal bands for two-decade. No one has a right-hand chop like Holt. ‘Verbal Razors’ and “Open Season’ are solid late album tracks that are above straight filler status. Honorable mention to bonus track and AC/DC cover ‘Overdose’. Yes, this song was not on the original release, but was cut at the sessions for the album, and definitely carries the trademark of fine Exodus covers, especially AC/DC covers.

    Although they didn’t have long to enjoy the success of their hard work, the band parlayed this album into a major record deal for their next release. They toured for less than half a year on the album, but they did record the Good Friendly Violent Fun live album on the last night of the tour. That album is a pretty strong indicator of where they were heading, even though Hunting departed the group until 1997. Fabulous Disaster surely holds up as the glue of their early career after the crushing debut, and still in their top five albums in their career today.

    “And this exercise

    helps you brutalize

    With us!




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