EXODUS frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza has weighed in on his band’s legacy and standing within the metal scene.
The long-running Bay Area thrashers have recently been the topic of discussion on whether they should be part of a proposed expanded “Big Five” of thrash alongside METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX. The band arguably has only one classic album to its credit — their 1985 debut “Bonded By Blood”, which featured vocalist Paul Baloff. By the time Souza took over the vocalist position in 1986 for the release of the following year’s “Pleasures Of The Flesh”, EXODUS‘s sales figures were dwarfed by their competitors and the band failed to make a commercial breakthrough. And like most thrash bands, EXODUS was not immune to the Seattle grunge wave and experienced a sharp drop in popularity by the time of their initial 1993 disbandment.
In a recent interview with Dead Rhetoric‘s Matt Coe, Steve — who is promoting EXODUS‘s upcoming album “Persona Non Grata” — was asked to assess the band’s career and whether EXODUS now carries a certain amount of “respect and credibility.” He said: “I think I explain things very simply: In the ’80s, we were rock stars; in the ’90s, we were has-beens; and now we are considered legends. You have to go through that and appreciate that whole process. As stupid kids, you don’t know you are 18, writing all these songs, all these people around telling you how great you are while they put your money in their back pockets — it’s all a learning process. Now we value what we’ve done and we know what it’s worth for us. We know what we are capable of musically and we know what the fans expect from us and we deliver to them. It’s a mutual appreciation from both sides. We would never give them a record that sucked or didn’t have any of our feeling for what we wanted to do. Now we know what we want — musically the direction is there.”
Regarding EXODUS‘s musical direction on “Persona Non Grata”, Souza said: “I hear aspects of ‘Tempo Of The Damned’  and ‘Exhibit B [The Human Condition]’  in this new album. That’s just me personally — the mentality seems that way. But I can see a little ‘Fabulous Disaster’,  there are some songs that have a bit of ‘Cajun Hell’ atmosphere. Anger, tempo, and intricacies. Gary [Holt, guitar], talk about compositions on an album — this is why it took seven years, but wow. I like it better now. The focus is completely into EXODUS and these songs prove it.”
You can read the entire interview at Dead Rhetoric.
“Persona Non Grata” will be released on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band’s history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.
“Persona Non Grata” is the follow-up to 2014’s “Blood In Blood Out”, which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers’ first release since the departure of the group’s lead singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
“Persona Non Grata” was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band’s history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.
In July, EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting underwent a successful total gastrectomy in his battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach. He rejoined his bandmates on stage on October 7 at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California.
EXODUS tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at Psycho Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada in August and at Full Terror Assault in Cave In Rock, Illinois in September while Hunting was recovering from surgery. Tempesta was a member of EXODUS from 1989 until 1993 and played on the band’s albums “Impact Is Imminent” (1990) and “Force Of Habit” (1992).