The Best of Exodus: Lessons in Violence

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Containing three unreleased studio tracks and a near-complete live recording from a 1985 performance at New York's Studio 54, this 1991 release on Relativity's Combat imprint features original Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff in vintage form. Sounding like a local drunk bellowing from the end of the bar that nobody wants to visit, Baloff's between song banter is as (unintentionally) hilarious as his band's music is frantic. Exodus created some of the first and best thrash-metal on their 1985 debut Bonded in Blood, and the band sound tight as they race through seven of the record's cuts during the live section of A Lesson in Violence. The record's highlight has to be Baloff's barely coherent, knuckle-headed discourse. Among the subjects given the maundering Baloff treatment are lets-give-the-posers-a-beat-down musical xenophobia and similarly high-minded crowd-pleasers like wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper's physical dominance of Hulk Hogan. The first three studio cuts (accordingly void of Baloff's between-song exercise in dumb-metal stereotype reinforcement) are songs from the Bonded in Blood follow-up Pleasures of the Flesh, but these alternate mixes feature Baloff who had left the band by the time Pleasures of the Flesh was recorded and released in 1987. Baloff's renditions might interest passionate Exodus fans, but these three openers are basically unremarkable and understandably absent for the band's triumphant debut. While not a technically good live recording, A Lesson in Violence does capture the energy and grit of bay area thrash metal trailblazers Exodus in their original, legendary lineup.

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