Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
Pleasures of the Flesh Marks the Debut of Vocalist Steve Souza
Veteran American thrash metal band Exodus which has been such a major part of the Bay Area thrash metal scene has somehow managed to keep my interest enough for me to write about them even in 2019 as the band turns 40! Their second studio album called Pleasures of the Flesh was released back in 1987 and they do a darn good job of thrash metal and they use melodies that Testament would use on their first two albums as well. Pleasures of the Flesh also means that it ends up being the debut of vocalist Steve Souza and he does a good job of replacing Paul Baloff. If we do not count the breaks that this band took throughout their career then Exodus would have been active for 40 years now.
There Is a Major Flaw for the Song Deranged
The album begins with a narration before the song Deranged lyrically is about someone that clearly has severe mental problems but he says that his psychiatrist says that he is okay. Unfortunately, mental illness is a huge problem in the United States and Exodus was bringing up the subject for thought. The song would have been better without the narration and this is something that I have not seen European thrash bands incorporate in their music and they get right down to playing thrash metal and making it work.
That’s not to say that the songs on this album don’t work but there’s no need for the band to include narration about a person that has alcoholic seizures and is a mentally problem filled person. It is better to just get down to playing the music instead of this kind of counterproductive narration.
Interpretation of the Album's Title
Pleasures of the Flesh may as well point out that some humans have pleasure for selfish reasons that end up severely hurting or killing them. Is Pleasures of the Flesh a better album than Bonded by Blood? I like it a little more but this is subjective obviously.
Pleasures of the Flesh Album Review Continued
“Til Death Do Us Part” features a sound of a bell before the heaviness of the song sets in. The song has melody, the type that even Testament would put to use during this time period which was from about 1987 through 1989. The band right away sends the message that they could care less about politics and that they write their songs the way that they want to and have fun the way that they want. However, I am biased at least partially that I will say that American thrash metal is not what it used to be because I’m so used to being impressed by European thrash bands much more these days. “Parasite” is a song that’s got that fast, chunky riffing that pretty much defined the decade that it was written in.
Stylistically, Pleasures of the Flesh definitely has that early to mid-1980’s thrash metal feel to it as the leads kick in as well. Note: leads refer to lead guitar. The title track starts with some Brazilian style drumming before the melody sounds like Testament. Is there any surprise there? The beginning sounds like birds are chirping though.
It is worth mentioning for emphasis that in this time period (1980’s until around 1992 or so), the American thrash metal scene was at its peak. In 1993 you had albums such as Sacred Reich’s Independent which were solid thrash releases in their own right. But 1987 was still a solid year for American heavy metal because you also had Testament’s The Legacy which I’ve written about before.
Then out of the blue comes a short acoustic filled instrumental called 30 seconds and I did not expect this coming from Exodus since their work usually is fast and heavy songs. “Seeds of Hate” musically sounds like a song on Helstar’s Nosferatu album. The song lyrically is about the fact that the Earth may explode because of the wars and chaos going on in the Third World. “Chemi-Kill” is a song that is totally against establishment politicians. The system has become about power and money as many of these elected leaders will do anything they can to make another buck at the expense of the people of other economic classes. Are we all doomed to fail? Not if we just focus on what we want and go after those things. The album ends with the fast song called “Choose Your Weapon” and by this point, it is clear that Exodus was dedicated to playing speedy, aggressive driven riffs however, they did not have the style of groove that Pantera did but still, Exodus is one of the top bands of the entire United States!
© 2019 Ara Vahanian