Thrash metal was an absolutely booming genre throughout the 80's and 90's as everywhere you looked there seemed to be a steady stream of new acts arriving on the scene. However, as is often the case with any scene that suddenly becomes inundated, one has to sift through a never-ending amount of derivative sounding imitators before finally getting to the real players. Occasionally though a few diamonds in the rough for some reason get overlooked and never end up getting the proper credit or acclaim they so deserve. This was certainly the case for Exhorder, a band out of Louisiana who's origins go back to 1985 when the quintet was formed by a bunch of beer drinking buddies in New Orleans. After a bit of a rocky start which actually saw the band breakup for a brief period not long after recording their second demo in 1988, they would eventually reconvene as a quartet and sign with Roadrunner Records who issued their impressive debut effort Slaughter In The Vatican in 1990.
All the pieces were seemingly in place for Exorder to get their fair shot at global domination as Slaughter In The Vatican not only featured eight absolutely killer tracks served up in straight ahead thrash fashion, but the production duties were handled by the infamous Scott Burns (Death, Obituary, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse) at Morrisound Recording in Tampa. This gem is chock-full of massive sounding, tight, chugging riffs courtesy of the twin guitar assault of Vinnie LaBella and Jay Ceravolo. "Death In Vain" and "Homicide" sets the tone right from the onset with drummer Chris Nails relentless, breakneck tempos, LaBella and Ceravalo's tradeoff solos and Kyle Thomas' extremely effective, throat shredding vocals. The uncompromising thrash assault of "Exhorder", "The Tragic Period" and "Legions Of Death" all possess very distinct qualities reminiscent of Reign In Blood era Slayer. Thomas barely comes up for air, delivering these epic tales of violence, rape and desecration at such a furious pace that at times it seems barely comprehensible. Dimebag Darrell must have had a massive shit eating grin on his face when Exhorder and Pantera toured together in the early days because it's clear that both LaBella and Ceravolo's savage riffs and screeching solos shared a common bond with the late guitarist.
There are no shortages of controversies on Slaughter In The Vatican, which in contrast seem almost tame by today's standards, but the PMRC (remember them?) probably had a field day with them back in the day. For starters the cover art depicting the pope being led to his death by hanging definitely irked the Catholic Church, and even today you'd be hard pressed to find this disc taking up shelf space on the racks of big market retailers Wally World or Best Buy. As previously mentioned, lyrically this one is downright nasty from start to finish. One listen to "Desecrator", "Exhorder" or the self explanatory but unprintable words to "Anal Lust" should be all the proof necessary to convince the listener that these guys were/ are the real deal. One thing is for sure, there's no doubt that the subject matter perfectly matches the sheer, unbridled intensity of the music.
The influence of this album should not be underestimated, or the impact it had on the thrash metal underground at the time. The fact that people are still talking about this one nearly twenty years after its original release should all but confirm its status as a 'classic'. Exorder would go one to deliver one more album The Law before folding up shop in the early 90's, although earlier this year there have been rumblings that the gears of war are being oiled up again for some more mayhem, which is very good news indeed. So what better time than now for Metal Mind to bring this one back in the hopes that the masses will consume it properly this time around. If you missed the boat the first time then this is your chance to experience Slaughter In The Vatican remastered and issued in a limited edition & numbered digipak.
1) Death In Vain
5) The Tragic Period
6) Legions Of Death
7) Anal Lust
8) Slaughter In The Vatican