EXODUS frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza spoke to Australia's Heavy about the band's upcoming album, "Persona Non Grata", which is scheduled for release on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. Asked about the description of the LP's lyrical content in the official press release as touching on "themes of modern societal disgust and degradation," Zetro said: "It wasn't done purposely like that. There just seemed to be so much fodder to pick from, and it seemed like everything that we wrote about on this record lyrically kind of hit a chord with a lot of people. It was written in the middle of everything last year, even though it seems like we're all still in the middle of it. It was written pretty much at the height of [the pandemic]. I think that the anger and the angst definitely comes from what we were seeing everywhere."
According to Souza, EXODUS fans "expect a certain thing" on each one of the band's albums. "I think it's always been about brutality and violence and social, political [and] religious issues," he said. "I think it's always been that way. We've always metaphorically went after everyone. Now we're really [doing it]. This album is just loaded with that. It's a very socially conscious record; it's a very what-is-going-on-now record. I tell everybody this is not a nice record. For a heavy metal fan, that's exactly what you wanna hear — that this is not a nice album. And it's not; it's very abrasive. The lyrical content, the approach, the attack — everything is in your face on this one."
"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.
In July, EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting underwent a successful total gastrectomy in his battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach.
Last month, EXODUS tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at Psycho Las Vegas on August 22 in Las Vegas, Nevada and at Full Terror Assault on September 11 at Hogrock Campground 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).