Saturday, 12 March 2016

Exodus - Plymouth Review

Thrash is a genre of music that, while I do not often sit at home listening to it, is often great live. A tight and powerful thrash band always make for an entertaining evening out, and Bay Area legends Exodus were no exception. While they never reached the heights of fame that many of their contemporaries did, they have always been well loved and respected within the community. The fact that band leader, main songwriter, and guitarist Gary Holt is absent from the majority of Exodus’ shows these days because he is touring with Slayer after the loss of Jeff Hanneman is testament to the respect Exodus have. Kragen Lum (guitar/vocals) is currently filling Holt’s place on the road, and he acquitted himself really well. This gig was the third of three consecutive gigs. I had seen Avantasia in London on Tuesday, before coming back home to catch Sylosis and Decapitated’s co-headlining show at The Hub. Thursday was the turn of Exodus, again at The Hub, and completed the gig marathon. While the Exodus show was not sold out, there was a good-sized turn out, and the atmosphere was excellent throughout.

Support came from Finnish thrashers Lost Society who I had not really enjoyed on record, but thought they might deliver live. They were on stage for about 40 minutes and the energy throughout their set was electric, and the crowd really seemed to get into their music. Most of their songs were extremely fast, with high-pitched, rasping vocals from Samy Elbanna (vocals/guitar) that made a chance from the constant growling that fills much of modern thrash. He and Arttu Lesonen (guitar/vocals) traded solos throughout too, with some excellent displays of twin-lead guitar sections, like Iron Maiden on speed! While their music has a certain chaotic feel at times, the band were always tight which made for an enjoyable set. While I cannot see myself giving their albums much airtime at home, their set was very enjoyable, and the band probably have a good future ahead of them within the genre.

Exodus’ show in Plymouth was towards the end of a 17 date tour of the UK. It is always great to see American bands coming to the UK and doing a proper full tour, rather than just going to the obligatory stops in London and Manchester. Not enough bands seem to want to do it, and I hope it paid off for Exodus! You could describe the band’s set as career-spanning, with a good mix of old and new throughout. Black 13 and Blood in Blood Out, both from the band’s latest album, started the show and frontman Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza – back for his third stint in the band – proved to be a commanding metal frontman. With a voice like a thrash version of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Zetro powered through the set with ease. The first half of the set mostly consisted of newer material, with four numbers from Blood in Blood Out, and the slightly older, but still relatively new, Children of a Worthless God dominating. That number in particular stood out. It showcased the more technical side of the band’s songwriting, with Lum and Lee Altus (guitar) trading plenty of riffs and solos. The more mid-paced metal of Body Harvest also stood out, with it’s catchy gang-vocal chorus. Lots of fan favourites filled the second half of the set. The lengthy A Lesson in Violence was a standout here, with lots of intricate drum fills from founding member Tom Hunting (drums/vocals), before the pounding Blacklist saw lots of movement from the crowd. The main set came to an end with a ripping version of Impaler. An encore of three absolute classic thrash numbers followed. The anthemic Bonded by Blood, one of thrash’s true anthems, was the first up, before the epic The Toxic Waltz saw a large circle pit open up and everyone was singing along to the catchy chorus. The evening came to an end with Strike of the Beast and the crowd roared their approval. The setlist was:

Black 13
Blood in Blood Out
And then there Were None
Children of a Worthless God
Salt the Wound
Body Harvest
Metal Command
A Lesson in Violence
War is my Shepherd
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast

Exodus really put on a great show in Plymouth, and it is good to see a few more bands willing to make the trip down to Devon to play live. Plymouth crowds are always pretty lively, and it would be great to see more bands down this way!

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