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Exhorder | Slaughter in the Vatican | The Law | review | metal | Lollipop
Slaughter in the Vatican/The Law (Roadrunner)
by Tim Den
The name Exhorder strikes awe and intimidation into the hearts of true metal hordes everywhere. What, you never heard of 'em? Well then, now we know who the faithful and the come-latelys are. Y'all can keep your hipster metal (screamo), just pray that you don't run into these REAL DEAL, Louisiana-bred lunatics in a dark alley.
Formed in the mid-to-late '80s, Exhorder are credited with starting the "Southern trendkill" style of thash-hardcore-sludge insanity eventually carried on by the likes of Crowbar, Eyehategod, Soilent Green, Down, and - of course - Pantera. In fact, if you pay attention to the way Phil Anselmo developed his style from Power Metal on, it's blatantly obvious that he worshipped Exhorder. Vocalist Kyle Thomas' part-screaming, part murderous ranting embodied the cajun swamp's murky danger and the Deep South's dementia like no other; his threats verbalized crystal-clearly yet encrusted with grim. Backed by the rest of the destructive band, Exhorder sounded like real trouble: Like Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre trouble. The kind of shit you fear you'll run into while driving through the backwoods of Mississippi. Bros sipping Bud while sunbathing on top of their Camaro-on-blocks, shooting at birds with sawed-offs, and occasionally dipping their dirty asses into the kiddie pool on the otherwise barren front lawn. It's fucking mean, the kind of "underbelly of life" shit you don't ever want to come face to face with.
1990's Slaughter in the Vatican came out to deafening press raves, many barely able to hang onto their bowels as the shredding speed tore through their intestines. The opening to "Desecration," by this day and age, has become all but an underground legend. The band's live shows around this time also became famous: The violence, the drunk-and-disorderly conduct, the fuck-it-all vandalism of the members' daily lives (including getting arrested for stealing road signs while on the way to a mixing session)... man, is it any wonder Henry Rollins tells anecdotes about these guys during spoken word performances? If you can get through Slaughter in the Vatican without feeling like you got jumped-in by a gang, you're a better man than I.
1992's The Law, though a tad more groove-concentrated, continued the barrage of Southern breakdowns and attitudes. Personally, I think the band got much more mature on this second outting, tangling riffs and mosh beats like contortionists from hell, but unfortunately, the public didn't dig it as much. Perhaps cuz of the less-violent lyrics? Whatever the case, Exhorder soon disappeared after The Law's release, despite rumors of a third album being demoed. Thomas went on to front the Sabbath-ish Floodgate (an unsurprising move, hinted by the cover of "Into the Void" on The Law) and briefly handled vocal duties for Trouble, but there's been nothing but silence from the other former members. However, the reception that these reissues have been getting since their release (out-selling every other Roadrunner two-in-one reissue in the first two weeks) has prompted rumors of reunion... maybe the old veterans will gear up again? What I wouldn't pay to see the looks on this generation's weaklings' faces when Exhorder decapitates them. In the meantime, get reacquainted with the band's two classic albums. It is pure pain in the most delicious of forms.
(902 Broadway New York, NY 10010)