San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal veterans EXODUS will release their new album, “Blood In, Blood Out”, on October 14 via Nuclear Blast. The album art was illustrated by Swedish artist Pär Olofsson, known worldwide for his incredible renderings that have graced the covers of countless heavy metal albums, including EXODUS‘ “Let There Be Blood”.
The concept for the art was impressively envisaged by Olofsson based on the album title alone, as guitarist Gary Holt explains: “The concept came from Pär Olofsson. I fed him the title and he immediately came up with the final concept, and it’s perfect! One of my favorite covers we’ve ever done and it fits the title and theme to a T!”
“Blood In, Blood Out” will be EXODUS‘ first since the departure of the band’s lead singer of the past nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of his predecessor, Steve “Zetro” Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Souza told Chile’s Radio Futuro on July 8. “I’m really looking forward to this next adventure with my brothers in metal — these guys I spent 30 years with, on and off. So it’s very exciting.”
Speaking about how being in EXODUS is different today than it was when he first joined the band in the ’80s and even a decade ago, Souza said: “I think everybody’s matured quite some bit, and I think, as we all get older, we all realize things that we do wrong, especially myself, we realize our faults and our mistakes. And it’s great that everybody can come to a meeting of the minds and be able to work forward and be mature enough to work forward.”
He added: “The whole reception to me being back with the guys has been really, really great.”
“Blood In, Blood Out” will feature a guest appearance by METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett on the song “Salt In The Wound”. “It felt really casual, really cool — just like it did back in 1980 when we were all just hanging out back in the day,” Hammett told RollingStone.com. “Me, recording a solo on their album was a huge thing for me. Other than the EXODUS demo that’s been heard by a lot of people, it’s the only time I ever recorded with EXODUS. It was a huge thing for me.”
He added: “I play a pretty cool solo, and then Gary comes in and plays another solo, and you know what? I listened to that and thought, ‘Wow, it’s 1982 all over again and here we are, Gary and I are trying to cut each other’s heads off with our guitar solos.’ Nothing has changed much in the last 30 years. I love it. I love those guys. I’ve only known them for most of my life, so I’m really happy that I finally got to record with them.”
Hammett was a member of EXODUS‘ original lineup before replacing Dave Mustaine in METALLICA in 1983. In fact, Hammett was not only the person who came up with the EXODUS name, but also the first from the band to meet original EXODUS singer Paul Baloff and brought him into the group.
In a recent interview with Australia’s “Blood, Sweat And Metal” podcast, Dukes said that he had not talked to any of his former bandmates in EXODUS about his departure from the band. “I haven’t spoken with anyone but [drummer] Tom [Hunting],” Rob explained. “Tom called me… He called me and said, ‘We’re gonna go on with a different singer. We’re gonna be going with Zet.’ And that was it. It was about a 20-second phone call. And that was really all I got. That’s it.”
Asked if he had any comment on how Dukes‘ exit was handled by EXODUS and whether it was true that Rob was fired in a 20-second phone call, Souza told Radio Futuro: “You know, I know nothing about that, and with all due respect to all the fans, I really don’t choose to get into that. I just wanna talk positive about the band and move forward. So, again, that was really nothing that I was… I wasn’t even privy to that information, so I really don’t have any comment on it.”
EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt — who has been pulling double duty with SLAYER for the past four and a half years — denied that EXODUS handled the dismissal of Dukes in an insensitive manner, saying “There were the calls to Rob preceding this, [so] how long should the final call be?
“20 seconds was not all this involved.
“[While I was] in Europe [with SLAYER, I] pretty much got the rundown on everything as we went through this.”
He added: “Much time was spent on this.”
Holt also shot down Internet speculation that the split with Dukes was motivated by financial reasons or that it was masterminded by EXODUS‘ new so-manager, TESTAMENT vocalist Chuck Billy, who co-founded the management company Breaking Bands LLC. “It isn’t for the money [and] Chuck did not orchestrate this,” Holt said. “There were issues behind the scenes and we came to a conclusion.” The guitarist, however, refused to go into the details of EXODUS‘ decision to part ways with Dukes, explaining: “All will remain internal. I see no need to air the laundry for anyone.”
Holt, who previously said that the decision to fire Rob and re-hire Zetro “was the most difficult decision of our lives, one the entire band made,” was once again full of praise for EXODUS‘ former frontman, saying: “I wish nothing but the best for Rob, [and I] have nothing but love for the man. He will be a force for a long time and I am proud of him and how he went from a dude with a pink mohawk to a vicious thrash vocalist. He is a killer singer and we have total respect for him and love the music we made together.”
Dukes joined EXODUS in January 2005 and appeared on four of the band’s studio albums — “Shovel Headed Kill Machine” (2005), “The Atrocity Exhibition… Exhibit A” (2007), “Let There Be Blood” (2008, a re-recording of EXODUS‘ classic 1985 LP, “Bonded By Blood”) and “Exhibit B: The Human Condition” (2010).