Concert Review: Exodus
(San Francisco, CA, Slim’s, 12-06-10)
On Sunday, June 12, 2010 Exodus played a record release show at Slim’s nightclub. Exodus played a 16 song, 110 minute set from 10:51 to 12:41.
1. Ballad of Leonard and Charles (Exhibit B: The Human Condition record, 2010) began with a tape track for the 60 second introduction. Approximately the first 30 seconds of the introduction (approximations presumed throughout) solely featured an acoustic guitar while the second half was augmented by keyboards. The band walked on stage and Gary Holt (“GH,” guitarist) and Lee Altus (“LA,” guitarist) played pummeling mid tempo guitar riffs also featured during the last 50 seconds of Bedlam 123 off The Atrocity Exhibition … Exhibit A record (2007). GH played a smoldering series of short, high guitar notes during the second half of the riff rampage. The band stopped playing for one second followed by GH and LA’s chugging high tempo guitar riffs augmented by Tom Hunting’s (“TH’s,” drummer) thundering drumming and Jack Gibson’s (“JG’s,” bassist) solid driving bass lines. Rob Dukes (“RD,” vocalist) screamed the first verse and chorus with ferocity. During the first chorus TH smashed his Paiste cymbals, and RD screamed the final word, “Violeeeeeeeence.”
The second verse was preceded by a seven second interlude that featured GH and LA’s chugging riffs. After the second chorus the band engaged in a 30 second jam session that highlighted TH’s drumming with prominent use of his cymbals. TH wore knee length, camouflage grey, cotton shorts, black Sik World (merchandising brand) muscle shirt with the “Sik World” logo in red letters on his chest. TH played a grey to black fade Yamaha drum kit featuring silver speckles and double bass drums. The third verse contained a vocal exchange between GH and RD. GH sang the introductory word of the odd numbered verse lines (e.g., “Fear – A macabre madness. Fiendish carnage with rabid butchery.”), whereby he chanted the following words throughout the third verse, “Fear, pain, rape, slave, sado, sick, lie, kill, death.” [Apropos words to comprise a Hallmark greeting card.] LA and GH then traded guitar solos for 60 seconds followed by RD singing the third verse and chorus. The song concluded with feedback from GH and LA’s guitars that led straight into Beyond the Pale.
2. Beyond the Pale (Exhibit B: The Human Condition, 2010) is an up tempo thrasher that began with TH’s thundering drumming and GH and LA’s chugging guitar riffs during which GH briefly played lingering guitar notes for a few seconds before resuming riffing. RD sang the first verse and pre chorus. Between the first pre chorus and second verse GH and LA played chugging guitar riffs for 20 seconds that ended with a series of complicated TH drum fills. The second verse contained poignant lyrics, “Take the gun. Take the knife. Take the pain. Then take the life. My taste for homicide … is rising up and amplified. Bloody deeds, my only friend … with me ‘til the bitter end. Together we are one. And our work has just begun.” RD then sang the second pre chorus and first chorus. The band jammed for 35 seconds followed by GH’s 40 second guitar solo. GH wore black combat boots, black jean pants, black Sik World t-shirt with “Sik World” and a pentagram in red letters on his chest, and black sweatbands on his forearms. GH played a white B.C. Rich flying V guitar with pearl trim. The band jammed for 70 seconds after which RD sang the third verse, third pre chorus, and second chorus. The song came to a raucous conclusion with LA’s 50 second guitar solo.
3. Iconoclasm (The Atrocity Exhibition … Exhibit A, 2007). Before Iconoclasm RD commented on how some of the audience members in the mosh pit were engaging in “old school moshing,” including “one dude who was stepping on people’s heads.” RD wore black Vans high top shoes with white trim, knee length, black, cotton shorts with a red “Exodus” logo printed on the left leg, and black t shirt bearing a large caricature of the head of a figure wearing a gas mask on the back of which read in white letters, “The truth can be oppressed for only so long.” [RD bears a slight resemblance to George “Spanky” McFarland, American child actor in “The Little Rascals (a.k.a. “Our Gang”) American comedy short films (1922-1944). I am sure RD will “spank” my butt for calling him “Spanky.”] Iconoclasm began amidst GH and LA’s thrash infused guitar riffs and TH’s double bass drums. After a 60 second introduction RD sang the first verse at a mid tempo pace and slightly lower than usual octave. RD then sang the second verse, which was preceded by a 15 second display of frenetic riffing by GH and LA and tom tom pummeling by TH. RD then sang the second chorus with the tempo slowing down to a mid tempo pace when he sang the final word (i.e., “free”). GH and LA played heavy guitar riffs for 40 seconds after which RD sang the third verse and GH played a 35 second guitar solo. The tempo then resumed an up tempo pace and the band engaged in a two minute jam session during which LA played a 30 second guitar solo. RD then sang the third verse and chorus.
4. Metal Command (Bonded by Blood, 1985) began with LA’s palm muted guitar riffs and TH’s drumming above which GH laid the song’s signature guitar chord progression. RD sang the first verse and chorus. The second verse was preceded by a 10 second interlude during which GH and LA played guitar chord progressions. RD then sang the second verse and chorus followed by a 45 second GH guitar solo and a 25 second jam session. RD then sang the third verse and chorus with the former containing particularly memorable lyrics, “Our legions show no mercy. The final hour nears. Sonic blast deafening. It’s ripping through your ears. There is no retribution … for those who do not dare. There’s only execution. You’re dead without a prayer.”
5. Downfall (Exhibit B: The Human Condition, 2010). Before Downfall RD said, “How many metalheads do we have here tonight? How many of you watch that show Metalocalypse [animated television series about a death metal band called Dethklok]? Well the director of that show [Jon Schnepp] shot our latest video. It is coming out in a week or some sh*t like that. It’s called Downfall.” [Note to self: buy a Little Rascals calendar as RD’s practical Christmas gift.] The first 45 seconds of the song featured GH playing harmonic guitar notes atop LA and JG’s solid rhythm chords. JG wore black combat boots, black jean pants, plain black t-shirt, and black sweatband on his right forearm. JG played a black Yamaha five string bass and used Ampeg amplifiers (“amps”). [JG is the metal equivalent of Johnny Cash (American country singer, guitarist dubbed “The Man in Black”). Also, JG’s mustache and beard remind me Porthos, the fictional character in Alexandre Dumas, père’s novel, The Three Musketeers (1844). I would not be surprised if JG came on stage wielding a sword in lieu of a bass and chanted, “All for one, one for all.”] GH and LA then played churning mid tempo guitar riffs that continued into the first verse followed by the first chorus with a slightly escalated tempo. The first chorus fluidly transitioned into the second verse during which the tempo momentarily slowed down only to return to the higher tempo during the second chorus.
The song’s highlight came after the second chorus when the tempo slightly slowed down, JG and TH delivered a heavy series of bass lines and drum beats, and GH and LA played ominous guitar riffs. [The suspenseful eerie mood the band created was equivalent to the laboratory scene in James Whale’s classic horror film, “Frankenstein” (1931) when the mad scientist successfully brought his wretched creation to life.] The audience thrice chanted, “Fall” and RD screamed, “Downfall!” [My downfall came during the first three songs when various crowd surfing limbs toppled on me like rainfall in the two feet wide photo pit.] GH then played a 35 second guitar solo followed by the third verse and chorus. During the third chorus the audience repeatedly chanted, “Hay” and pumped their fists in the air. The song ended with a 50 second cascade of GH and LA guitar riffs. Downfall, along with another song to be performed, received the strongest audience reaction of the five new songs the band performed.
6. A Lesson in Violence (Bonded by Blood, 1985). Before A Lesson in Violence RD said, “You are always so awesome. This band has been tearing it up since 1982. Our new record still shows we thrash the right way. We do it just the right way, fast and heavy.” A Lesson in Violence is an up tempo thrasher that began with GH and LA’s chainsaw like guitar riffs followed by RD singing the first verse, “If you got something to say then come my way. I’m guarded by Satan I’m riding on Baphomet. I’ll teach you a lesson in violence you won’t soon forget. The pleasure of watching you die is what I will get.” RD then sang the first chorus followed by a 15 second interlude that featured a battery of GH and LA guitar riffs atop TH’s thundering drums. Robb Flynn (Machine Head’s vocalist, rhythm guitarist) came on stage and sang the second chorus. GH and LA then played guitar solos for 60 seconds after which they locked into tight riffing. The mosh pit during A Lesson in Violence, along with two more songs to be performed, was particularly violent, hence the song title.
7. Fabulous Disaster (Fabulous Disaster, 1989). Before Fabulous Disaster RD said, “Are you guys tired? You want us to slow it down? You want some slow sh*t? How about something from 1989? Fabulous Disaster!” The song’s introduction featured LA playing a mid tempo guitar chord progression amidst red and blue stage lights while standing on TH’s 18 inch high, black colored wooden drum riser. GH played a series of frenetic guitar riffs atop LA’s guitar chord progression. At the 0:45 mark LA joined GH in frenetic riffing that continued into the first verse. LA wore black sneakers, black jean pants, plain black t shirt, and black sweatbands on his forearms. LA played a black ESP flying V guitar. [LA has so much lengthy hair he reminds me of a troll doll (toy doll fad created by Danish fisherman, woodcutter Thomas Dam (1959)), albeit more tamed and not as “poofy.”] Fabulous Disaster contained a particularly catchy chorus. The tempo momentarily slowed down before RD sang the final two lines of the first chorus but resumed an up tempo pace in time for GH’s 40 second guitar solo. After GH’s guitar solo LA once again played a mid tempo guitar chord progression atop which GH played frenetic guitar riffs. LA eventually joined GH in frenetic riffing that continued into the second verse followed by the second chorus that ended when RD screamed, “Fabulous disaster!”
8. Blacklist (Tempo of the Damned, 2004). Before Blacklist RD said, “Is everybody drinking and getting stoned or what?! [For a nanosecond my cross-wired brain misinterpreted RB with a literal interpretation of “getting stoned,” the capital punishment whereby an organized group throws stones at an individual until death. This punishment seems a bit drastic for drinking but then again fundamentalist countries condone stoning. All it would take to crack my puny skull is a pebble.] We forgot our weed but we are home now. When we say we need weed people just throw it on stage. How cool is that?! This one is called Blacklist.” Blacklist is a catchy mid tempo rocker that began with GH and LA’s basic, chugging guitar riffs and TH’s solid tom tom drums. The audience repeatedly chanted, “Hay” while RD screamed, “Bang your fu**in’ heads!” RD sang the first two verses and choruses in standard verse chorus pattern. The band then jammed for 30 seconds followed by GH and LA guitar solos for 50 seconds. The song concluded with RD singing the third verse and chorus.
9. The Sun is My Destroyer (Exhibit B: The Human Condition, 2010). Before The Sun is My Destroyer RD said, “I heard some guy up front yell, ‘Play some new sh*t.’ This one is called, The Sun is My Destroyer.” The Sun is My Destroyer is an epic song nearly 10 minutes in length. [It was long enough for me to read Leo Tolstoy’s 1225 page novel, “War and Peace” (1869) followed by a facial.] During the first 45 seconds GH and LA played recurring guitar riffs and TH a mid tempo, heavy tom tom beat. TH then kicked the song into overdrive with insanely fast drumming on par with Dave Lombardo (Slayer drummer). RD sang the first verse and chorus with a death metal vocal style. The first verse’s lyrics fit the death metal theme, “Immortal subjugator, usurper, dominator. Blood ruler of the dark. Lord of the shadow world, flag of black unfurled. Foul, unholy patriarch. Enslaver of mankind, king of all unkind. Light ender in black domain. I fear only the dawn, at war with the rising sun. Eternal dusk ordained.”
After a 20 second interlude featuring GH, LA, and JG’s frenetic riffing RD sang the second verse and chorus. Before the third verse the tempo significantly slowed down, and RD sang with less growl and more emotion. The slow tempo continued during GH and LA’s guitar solos that lasted 60 seconds. Before RD sang the fourth verse and final chorus the song resumed a frenetic pace replete with TH’s rollicking, thunderous drumming. During the final chorus white lights positioned on the stage floor stage left and right shined on the band as RD sang, “The sun is my destroyer.” [The light was bright enough for RD to have taken off his shirt, gotten basted with sun tan lotion, and bronzed. I would have loaned RD the cucumber slices from my facial to protect the delicate skin around his eyes.] During the last 1:40 seconds of the song the band showed its musical prowess by jamming at an insanely high tempo. After the song concluded RD said, “That is the first time we played that. We played it just for you. Next time we play that I want you all to sing along.” The Sun is My Destroyer, along with Downfall, received the strongest audience reaction of the five new songs the band performed.
10. War is My Shepherd (Tempo of the Damned, 2004). Before War is My Shepherd RD said, “I want a big pit for this song. This one is called War is My Shepherd.” During the introduction to this up tempo thrasher GH played sinister guitar riffs and TH bashed his tom tom drums. The pace and first verse’s lyrics set the tone for intense moshing, “You put your faith in Christianity. I put mine in artillery. My M 16 my lord and savior. Christ never done me a motherf**king favor.” [GH may not place high priority on grammar, but his prolific memorable songwriting skills are among the best in the metal genre.] RD sang the first two verses and choruses in standard verse chorus pattern. During the choruses the audience sang along with vigor. After the second chorus GH played a 20 second guitar solo.
The aural attack did not let up as the band then engaged in a 45 second jam session during which GH and LA stood center stage facing each other. RD then sang the third verse, “Farwell, Graham and Farrakhan. They need god, I need napalm. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition. My sermon is my demolition.” [These lyrics evidence GH’s noteworthy ability to write simple yet poignant lyrics. GH is a guru at using few words to effectively convey his views and make listeners ponder. GH would have a lucrative career as a Satanic monk, if such a job title existed, preaching the virtues of the dark overlord.] The third chorus was followed by a 20 second LA guitar solo. The mosh pit during War is My Shepherd, A Lesson in Violence, along with one more song to be performed, was particularly ravenous.
11. Impaler (Tempo of the Damned, 2004). Before Impaler RD said, “Now I am seeing old school mother fu**in’ moshing here tonight. This one goes out to (Paul) Baloff [late, original Exodus vocalist]. It is called the Impaler.” Impaler is a solid rocker that began with JG and TH’s heavy, mid tempo bass lines and drum beats, as well as GH and LA’s palm muted guitar riffs. A 15 second interlude that featured GH and LA’s guitar riffs separated the first two verses. After the second verse RD screamed, “Everyone go insane!” RD’s command served as the battle cry for the tempo to significantly increase as he sang the first chorus.” LA then played a three second guitar run followed by the second chorus during which white stage lights were syncopated with TH’s pulsating drum beats. LA then played a brief guitar solo followed by the third and final chorus. During the last two minutes of the song the tempo slowed to a mid tempo pace and the band engaged in a jam session. Impaler was the second consecutive song the band played off Tempo of the Damned (2004), but it was written by TH, GH, and Kirk Hammett (former Exodus and current Metallica guitarist) in 1982.
12. Strike of the Beast (Bonded by Blood, 1985) is an all out thrasher that featured GH and LA’s fluttering guitar riffs and TH’s monstrous double bass drums. RD sang the first verse and chorus as if spitting poison out of his mouth. After a 10 second interlude that highlighted GH and LA’s tight riffing RD sang the second verse and chorus. One of the two song highlights took place after the second chorus when the tempo momentarily slowed down and RD said, “I want to thank all you guys for coming out tonight. I want you to pick a side. (the pit audience separated into two clusters) I want everyone over here [stage left] to kill everyone over there [stage right], and I want you [stage right] to kill everyone over there [stage left]. C’mon spread it out more! No one goes ‘til I say … hold … hold … hayyyyyyyy!” The fans in the two pit clusters rushed toward each other and violently collided. [The fury with which the two warring factions collided was like a battle scene from Peter Jackson fantasy adventure film trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003).]
GH, LA, JG, and TH then engaged in the song’s second highlight, a 20 second jam session that was testament to the band’s undeniable music prowess and that fluidly led into the third verse after which LA and GH played guitar solos for 40 seconds. RD then sang the fourth and final verse. During the final 15 seconds of the song LA pulled a pre teen boy from front row, strapped his guitar on the bewildered boy, and encouraged him to strum the guitar. The boy enjoyed strumming LA’s guitar so much that GH and LA’s guitar technician eventually came over and gently removed the guitar. The mosh pit during Strike of the Beast, along with War is My Shepherd and A Lesson in Violence, was particularly tumultuous with Strike of the Beast reigning as the song that unleashed the greatest fury. The band left the stage at 12:17 and returned in one minute to play four additional songs.
13. Bonded by Blood (Bonded by Blood, 1985). Before Bonded by Blood TH came center stage and said, “Shh. I want to dedicate this show to Debbie Abono [late Bay Area manager of numerous thrash and death metal bands during the 1980’s and 1990’s who succumbed to cancer on May 16, 2010]. She was like a mother to a lot of us. But you know what? She went out the same day as Ronnie James Dio [late Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow singer who also succumbed to cancer on May 16, 2010] so she is in a good place.” As a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, GH played a part of the melody of Holy Diver from Dio’s Holy Diver record (1983) and Gates of Babylon from Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll record (1978). Bonded by Blood began with a tape track of the sound effect of the roaring engine of a rapidly descending plane shortly before crash followed by GH and LA’s high energy, machine gun like guitar riffs. RD sang the first verse and chorus with ample audience participation. After a 15 second interlude that featured GH and LA’s mind numbing guitar riffs, RD sang the second verse and chorus. GH and LA then played guitar solos for 35 seconds after which RD repeated the first verse and chorus.
14. Hell’s Breath (Let There be Blood, 2009). Before Hell’s Breath RD said, “(Chris) Kontos [former Exodus drummer] where are you? This one is for you. You are the star of the DVD (Shovel Headed Tour Machine: Live at Wacken and Other Assorted Atrocities). Seeing you 15 feet above ground. [RD erroneously identified Chris Kontos when he meant Toby Rage whose photograph mid air high atop the crowd is featured on the DVD.] This one is called Hell’s Breath.” Hell’s Breath featured mid tempo chugging guitar riffs. RD sang the first two verses and choruses in standard verse chorus pattern. The band experienced minor technical difficulties that thrice caused very loud feedback from GH and LA’s Engl amps. Since RD was standing one foot in front of the amps, he covered his ears as he sang and stormed back and forth while he covered his ears. [RD reminded me of Quasimodo, the namesake in Victor Hugo’s novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1831) because he hunched over as he stormed back and forth, the difference being Quasimodo became deaf from loud ringing of church bells whereas RD nearly became deaf from amp feedback.] As RD screamed the chorus the song shifted to an up tempo mode with TH exhibiting unbelievable drumming. GH and LA each played 10 second guitar solos followed by a 60 second jam session. RD then sang the third and final verse. After the song concluded RD asked, “How many people saw that song back in the day? (numerous audience members raised their hands) Wow!”
15. Toxic Waltz (Fabulous Disaster, 1989). Before Toxic Waltz RD said, “You guys tired? We got time for a couple more. I want to see an old school fu**in’ pit for The Toxic Fu**in’ Waltz!” Toxic Waltz is a mid tempo song with a catchy melody during the verses, pre chorus, and chorus. RD sang the first verse in pseudo rap fashion and fluidly transitioned to the pre chorus and chorus. After a two second interlude RD sang the second verse, pre chorus and chorus. GH and LA switched back and forth each playing two guitar solos lasting 60 seconds followed by a 25 second jam session. The tempo slightly slowed down before RD sang the third and final verse. Toxic Waltz is arguably the band’s biggest commercial hit mainly due to the airplay its video received on Headbanger’s Ball (MTV television program consisting of heavy metal music videos).
16. Good Riddance (Exhibit B: The Human Condition, 2010). Before Good Riddance RD said, “Everybody say hello to Gary Holt, Jack Gibson, Lee Fu**in’ Altus, and, on the drums, Tom Fu**in’ Hunting! Give it up for Heathen. Lee Altus pulled double duty. He did that for you.” RD sang the first verse of this up tempo thrasher at a particularly fast pace followed by the first chorus. During the 35 second interlude between the first chorus and second verse GH and LA played a flurry of muted guitar riffs while TH played frenetic double bass drums. After the second verse GH and LA played frenetic riffs for 20 seconds followed by guitar solos for 40 seconds. RD stood next to LA during his guitar solo and played air guitar complete with wincing. RD then sang the third verse and second chorus. The band members individually came stage front and raised their hands in appreciation.
Venue: Slim’s is a 400 seat San Francisco club that rhythm and blues artist Boz Scaggs opened in 1988. Slim’s is located within three miles of San Francisco’s financial district. The club decor is simple and includes chandeliers, brick walls, and a bar inspired by the facades of New Orleans manors. Within five feet of walking through the entrance are six steps that lead immediately up and into the general admission floor approximately 20 feet from the stage. At one end of the main floor is the stage that measures 29 feet wide by 16 feet deep. The stage is three feet and three inches from the club floor and features a moveable drum riser eight feet by six feet and a very narrow photo pit. At the other end of the main floor is a small balcony with 14 tables and seating for 70 people. The sound console is located in the rear by the steps leading up to the balcony. The L shaped bar runs the length of the floor stage left. The general admission floor also includes six pillars. Located downstairs are three dressing rooms, coat check, and additional restrooms.
Opening Bands (first to last): Passive Aggressive, Anvil Chorus, Heathen
Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.