Wednesday night was a pretty goddamn fierce metalfest, that’s for sure. EXODUS and SLAYER, together on the same bill, with guitar master Gary Holt pulling double duty in BOTH BANDS?? YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!? When they announced the tour I nearly popped a blood vessel; now as I pulled into the parking lot of Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie I was in danger of doing so once again. Not to mention this was a pretty big gathering of friends old and new as Joe Guzman (GuzPix), James Villa, the editor of On Tour Monthly, Jordan Buford from The Music Enthusiast, Wendy from KNAC, new friend Faye from Crystal Faye Photography and of course The Wonder Twins and I all gathered by the concessions to formulate plans of attack.
First order of business: EXODUS promptly at 7:30!
Hitting us hard with a double whammy from new record Blood In, Blood Out “Black 13” and the title track ripped through the auditorium with thunderous effect, lead singer Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza screaming, “DFW!! What the fuck is up?!? This set’s for Dime.” referring to Diamond Darrell Abbott, DFW native whose death’s ten-year anniversary at the hands of a crazed fan is a few weeks away.
The new EXODUS material will stand up to and destroy pretty much their entire back catalog save for Tempo of the Damned which was featured next with “Blacklist”. Gary Holt on guitar is a machine, a Terminator. He simply does not stop with riff after monstrous riff. In between his booming drumming on the songs, Tom Hunting kept standing on his drum riser whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Jack Gibson’s bass sounded massive and guitarist Lee Altus traded off on blood-spilling solos with Holt all set.
Of course no EXODUS gig would be complete without “Bonded by Blood” which the faithful lapped up like people dying of thirst at a desert oasis. And of course the circle pit went crazy for “The Toxic Waltz’ an MTV hit from 1989. There was one final number, another oldie that still shreds in “Strike of the Beast”. That riff could knock down walls and this was the perfect way to end an all-too brief set by these thrash masters. EXODUS needs to come back on a headlining run STAT! Now, it was time for a beer and some catching up with my crew because I don’t do SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. No. Just no.
SLAYER was still playing a set comprised of mostly early tunes, but the addition of songs from 2009’s World Painted Blood made me so happy because I love that record. In fact, the title track was the show opener. Score! The signature riff of “Postmortem” was next, fists pumping along and the arena roaring. Another new one in “Hate Worldwide” followed, Kerry King and Gary Holt unleashing Hell with their fingers. How Holt is doing double duty night after night is beyond me, but know this: the man is a sorely underrated BEAST, as a writer and shredder. I couldn’t take my eyes off him all night. Next up, not one, not two, but THREE of my favorite SLAYER tunes in a row: “Die By the Sword”, “Chemical Warfare” and of course “War Ensemble” which produced one of the more hellacious pits of the evening. Drummer Paul Bostaph was playing like a goddamn house on fire!
And when singer/bassist Tom Araya lets out that cry of “WAAAAAAAAAR!!” it’s like I’m back in 1990. Vocally he hasn’t lost it, not one bit.
The drunken guy near me finally got the tune he’d been yelling for with “Mandatory Suicide” one of the few I really get into from the South of Heaven record. And the clean intro to “Spill the Blood” from that same album had everyone going batshit, me included. This was sandwiched between a pair of classics, “Necrophiliac” which is another buzz saw riffer, and “Hell Awaits” from the album of the same name. And if that wasn’t enough, Tom then very calmly introduced “At Dawn They Sleep” and nearly had his hair and beard blown back by the roar of the crowd. This is one of those way-up-there high songs for me in terms of SLAYER classics, right alongside the next two from Reign in Blood, “Altar of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves” which starts as a chug and takes off like a rocket. I would love to see some of the young bands of today try to keep up with the frenetic pacing of a SLAYER show. They’d be crying at the halfway mark, I guarantee it.
Holy shit, are we really getting “Disciple” from 2001’s God Hates Us All right now??? YESSSSS!! I love that album, so this was an excellent surprise. “Seasons in the Abyss” was next, and then the crazy intro soloing of “Snuff” and Tom’s cries of “ACTION!!” galvanized the crowd once more. The now iconic strains of “Dead Skin Mask” rang out and once again the cheers, screams, and yells shook the walls at Verizon. And if they shook before they were ready to collapse once “Raining Blood” started. I haven’t seen a pit that nuts since DECAPITATED last month. One last new song, “Psycopathy Red” was next, prompting me to fire up World when I got home it’s such a great album.
The arena went dark, and 30 seconds later “South of Heaven” started and as it picked up its pace so did the headbanging get faster and harder.
Closing this night of spectacular thrash and speed was the BEYOND legendary “Angel of Death”, Araya’s opening scream every bit as primal, visceral and biting as it was in 1986. And just like last time the backdrop changed to the Heineken-label “HANNEMAN” a move that I have repeatedly said is leagues above classy. At the end of the day they may be one of the most fearsome foursomes in all of heavy metal, but the guys in SLAYER are gentlemen who take the time out to honor our fallen comrade each and every night.
Just like the last time they ripped through the Dallas area, SLAYER came, saw, and conquered. That’s what they do…that’s ALL they do. There are about ten U.S. shows left on this run, and I strongly urge you to go. You can find the remaining dates HERE.
LIVE REVIEW: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: ARDENT OWL MEDIA