Exodus - Pleasures of the Flesh - October 7, 1987
In my review of Bonded by Blood, I mentioned that there was a bit of a mismatch between the previous Exodus vocalist, Paul Baloff and the rest of the band. So, when they fired him for "personal and musical differences" and hired former Testament/Legacy vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza, it could only result in good things, right?
Well... kind of. As much as Baloff's barking could get tiresome, there was an endearing quality to it. Even though it didn't fit the music perfectly, it just FIT the MUSIC! Baloff gave hope to thrash fans that if your favourite band asked you to do lead vocals for them, you could do it because Paul Baloff did it. Without Baloff, Exodus lost a bit of what made them Exodus. It's not that Zetro is a bad vocalist either -- far from it. In fact, as far as snarly, higher-pitched thrash vocalists go, it'd be hard to find a better one this side of some guy named Blitz. The music behind the vocals has changed as well. It's not that there aren't moments of pure twisted thrash mayhem like on the debut album -- there are actually quite a few -- witness "Brain Dead" or "Choose Your Weapon" among others. The music is more melodic and refined than it was on Bonded By Blood though. It's not as fresh or intense or original. It's as if they listened to what their Californian peers were doing and blurred the line a little bit between Exodus and the other guys (which I'm pretty sure is exactly what they did).
Don't get me wrong, Pleasures of the Flesh is a very solid thrash album. There are still loads of great riffs and equally great songwriting. It's just that Bonded By Blood (which I only gave an 8.5, so it's not as if I think it was perfect) set the stage for some truly great stuff and the follow-up seems like somewhat of a letdown because of it. Also, it's kind of sad that Bonded By Blood would turn out to be their best album cover until almost 20 years later.
Standouts: Brain Dead, Choose Your Weapon, 'Til Death Do Us Part