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Review: Exhorder - Slaughter in the Vatican
Slaughter in the Vatican

Label: Roadrunner Records
Year released: 2003
Originally released in: 1990
Duration: 41:46
Tracks: 8
Genre: Thrash Metal


Review online: February 28, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
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Rated 4.1/5 (81.9%) (21 Votes)

Opening up with a crunchy mid-paced riff, it becomes apparent very quickly what the purpose of Exhorder's Slaughter in the Vatican is. Before long, Kyle Thomas is shouting over blistering fast tempos and riffs, before slowing down into deranged and sickening breakdowns. The sole intent of this album is to provide divination, for a future band known to the masses as Pantera would soon rip this off.

Okay, I'm joking.

I need to address the pink elephant in the room, though. There's an entire generation of metal fans who claim that Pantera's fame rests only on creating a carbon copy of Exhorder. Most people I've heard make that claim are old enough to have been around for both bands, but seemingly only know Pantera's music. They just want to pounce on the "big" band. Among metal fans of my generation, most of them have downloaded Exhorder's albums after hearing this claim, and have rightfully dismissed it. It's not like there is no resemblance; Kyle Thomas occasionally sounds like Phil Anselmo, but not that often. Added to that, Dime's riffs are crisper, and frankly more creative and better played. Ignoring such differences in quality, Dime rarely wrote riffs that resembled these. There's just as much similarity as there is between most black metal bands and Bathory, but you don't hear anyone pouncing on those bands.

The sole purpose of this album to create uncompromising and undeniably vile thrash. Not only does this album pull along with quick pace, it evokes this juvenile and moral putridity...and it's awesome. On "Desecrator," Thomas even says it himself: "I'm sick and depraved/society's garbage inside me." You get the picture. Songs like "Anal Lust" simply continue the theme. Moreover, this album is just as sonically scummy as it is lyrically. The guitar tone reflects people simply not caring, overcome by their anger. You get the feeling that after recording this album, they're probably gonna go push an old lady down a flight of stairs, and then headbang in celebration. Conveying an attitude awakened from complacency, the riffs wind up and down, invoking idealized carelessness. This album is sleaze.

At times, their sleaze becomes their fault. After a while, it just becomes monotonous. It's not that the songs become bad, per se; it's just something that you've heard before. It gets to the point that you're just saying "we get it; you're a sick dude who hates a lot of things." Sometimes it seems as if Exhorder is attempting to achieve such a high level of rawness on Slaughter in the Vatican that they sacrifice the quality of their music. The songs become muddled and flow together, and frankly, they get boring. I've heard this album a bunch of times, and I couldn't tell you one thing about the song "Legions of Death." It's done nothing to stick out.

Overall though, these flaws don't take too much away from the record. It's still worth it, and it's undeniably very metal. The cover features the Pope being brought the gallows! The sheer metalness makes me salivate! Slaughter in the Vatican is morally decayed thrash, rife with twisting riffs and breakdowns.

More about Exhorder...
Review: Defectum Omnium (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Interview with vocalist Kyle Thomas on December 3, 2017 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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