EXODUS Singer STEVE 'ZETRO' SOUZA On New Album 'Persona Non Grata': 'The Lyrical Content Is Very Violent, Very Vicious'

August 26, 2021

During the latest installment of his Zetro's Toxic Vault YouTube stream, EXODUS frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza discussed the band's upcoming album, "Persona Non Grata", which will be released on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. The disc's first single, "The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)", was made available earlier in the month.

"Lyrically, ['The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)' is] 'kick in your face and rape and murder your wife,'" he said. "Musically, it's from that era. And it's the fastest EXODUS song ever. It's only three minutes — one verse, two choruses, lead section and out.

"I'm gonna be honest with you, guys. You've heard one song now. And I'm finally gonna get to say this. I'm gonna compare the records. And if I was to compare them, I would compare them to a cross between [2004's] 'Tempo Of The Damned' and [2010's] 'Exhibit B[:The Human Condition]'," he continued.

"Personally, 'The Beatings' is not my favorite song. I love it — don't get me wrong; I love every song on the album — but when you finally get to hear 'Prescribing Horror' or 'Lunatic-Liar-Lord', those are my favorite songs. My performances and just the musical compositions that [guitarist] Gary Holt made on this album. And [guitarist] Lee Altus wrote the song 'Slipping Into Madness', and I wrote the lyrics for that song. That was the only thing that Gary didn't have anything in on, out of all 12 songs. 'Cosa Del Pantano' is kind of an acoustic thing, like we did in the old days."

Zetro went on to say that all EXODUS fans should be "very excited" for "Persona Non Grata", "because there are no fillers on it. It's full of hills and valleys and every song has its own personality, I guess is a good fucking word to use," he said. "The brutality is still here. The brutality is still right at my doorstep. To me, the lyrical content on this record is very violent, very vicious. There's choruses, there's singing parts… It's not a nice record. It's not nice. It's not nice lyrically, it's not nice musically. It's very not nice; it's just not nice. You know, bands get older and they do some good [stuff], and everyone's just, like, 'Yeah, that's cool,' but you can see their age is wearing on them. I don't think that's the case right here at all. I think that this album is very brutal, it's very in your face. The compositions, like I've been saying over and over again — it's Gary Holt's opus. And I know that you all feel 'Bonded By Blood' is, and it is, because it's the greatest thrash record ever recorded and written. But 36 years later, 37 years later, this thing has got wings and wheels, my friends, and I cannot wait to get out on the road and play it for all of you guys."

The official music video for "The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)" was written and directed by BJ McDonnell and produced by James A Rota.

"Persona Non Grata" is 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.

"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 was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band's history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.

Last month, EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting underwent a successful total gastrectomy in his battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach. EXODUS has since tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at two festivals — at last weekend's Psycho Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and at next month's Full Terror Assault in Cave In Rock, Illinois — while Hunting is recovering from surgery. Tempesta was a member of EXODUS from 1989 until 1993 and played on the band's albums "Impact Is Imminent" (1990) and "Force Of Habit" (1992).

When Hunting announced his absence from Psycho Las Vegas and Full Terror Assault, he said in a statement: "I need to manage my own expectations, and then work my very core back into shape to be fully ready for action. I have no doubt I'll bounce back and get there."

A GoFundMe campaign to help Hunting with medical expenses had previously raised more than $108,000 — including $5,000 from Tom's former EXODUS bandmate, current METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett, and $1,500 from FOZZY singer and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.

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