EXODUS singer Steve "Zetro" Souza has praised Tom Hunting's performance on the band's upcoming album, "Persona Non Grata", saying it was "the most focused" he has ever seen the drummer on an LP.
Tentatively due in the summer of 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records, "Persona Non Grata" will be the follow-up to 2014's "Blood In Blood Out", which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers' first release since the departure of the group's lead singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.
In the latest episode of his "Zetro's Toxic Vault" YouTube show, Souza stated about Hunting's playing on "Persona Non Grata" (see video below): "He was a monster — out of his mind. Probably the most focused I've ever seen him on an album.
"The mentality was let's make this thing as great as we can all really make this," he continued. "And I think that that's where everybody's effort was and everybody's head was. And Tom was just like a man possessed. Wait till you hear it."
"Persona Non Grata" was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and it is currently being mixed by Andy Sneap.
Souza recently said about the musical direction of the new EXODUS material: "This album has everything that a heavy metal fan and EXODUS fan wants. It's very brutal, it's very violent, it's very fast. The lyrics are very aggressive and really deep subject matter. It doesn't disappoint.
"As for [EXODUS guitarist] Gary Holt, him being the major songwriter and the main songwriter, I feel that he's written an absolute masterpiece — an absolute thrash metal masterpiece," he continued. "It's got all of the elements that an EXODUS record should have."
"Persona Non Grata" will feature a guest appearance by ex-EXODUS guitarist Rick Hunolt.
Longtime EXODUS fans will recall that Hunolt — the other half of the famed EXODUS "H-Team" who is on every studio recording from 1985 through 2004 and co-wrote some of the band's best-known songs such as "A Lesson In Violence" and "Deliver Us To Evil" — left EXODUS after the band's highly acclaimed 2004 reunion album, "Tempo Of The Damned". Following his departure, Hunolt was replaced by HEATHEN guitarist Lee Altus.
Back in April 2019, Hunolt rejoined Holt and other EXODUS members Hunting and Souza to perform several of the group's classic songs during a METAL ALLEGIANCE concert in San Francisco, California.
"Blood In Blood Out" was notable for featuring a guest appearance by former EXODUS guitarist Kirk Hammett, who left the band in 1983 to join METALLICA.
The original lineup of EXODUS consisted of guitarists Hammett and Tim Agnello, Hunting and vocalist Keith Stewart. Holt joined the band in 1981, while Kirk left two years before EXODUS's debut album, "Bonded By Blood", saw the light of day.
Souza is now on his third stint with EXODUS, having previously fronted the band from 1986 to 1993 and 2002 to 2004. A decade following his second departure, Souza returned to the fold in 2014, just in time to appear on "Blood In Blood Out".
"Persona Non Grata" will be EXODUS's first since the completion of SLAYER's final tour. In 2011, Holt began filling in for Jeff Hanneman at SLAYER live shows, and became the band's full-time co-guitarist as of 2013, while remaining a member of EXODUS.