Saturday, April 3, 2010

Exodus - Shovel Headed Tour Machine

Ah, Wacken, the annual time when metal fans from all over Europe gather for three days of great metal music, and when many fans from all over the world make the pilgrimage as well - it only makes sense that Wacken is a hell of a great place to record a live record or DVD (in the case of the limited edition of this release, both), amongst the communal excitement in the air.

Now, a lot of the time, these Wacken shows don't have setlists quite as long as a regular one-night show would, but in this case, Exodus makes well enough up for it with an almost Maidenesque enthusiasm; Rob Dukes works the crowd into enough pits to make for an exciting show, even if the camera were entirely focused on the crowd - of amusing note are the few fans who stop in the middle of the circle pits to throw the horns to the stage, and are rammed less than a second later by the unstoppable pit crowd, like getting plowed by a rhino.

The band themselves, despite putting forth enough enthusiasm to actually be able to work such pits with ease, play their parts flawlessly, and seemingly effortlessly. I'm not a huge Exodus follower, so I haven't studied their music to the point where I can point out the smallest live erring, but the production accentuates the sharp and precise-sounding performances.

As this was recorded on the touring circuit for The Atrocity Exhibition, the band front-loads their set with several songs from that record. Now, most of the metalheads I've discussed this album with seem all too eager to cast it down to the lowest circle of musical Cocytus with the likes of St. Anger, but I never found it such a bad album, instead a decent one at heart with good ideas that get unfortunately run into the ground.

But something bothered me about those songs on-record, and I couldn't quite place it - but after watching this DVD, it hit me: these songs were made for the stage. There, combined with the band's exuberance, the overlong structures don't quite seem to matter as much, and they blend well with older classics like the gate-crashing Bonded By Blood and set highlight A Lesson In Violence.

The second DVD provides a closer look at the band and its exploits. There's nothing wrong with it at all, but I'm sure hardcore fans will get more out of this than I will.

This set is punchy, exciting and fun as hell. If you want to get your blood pumping from a nice slab of pure-blooded live thrash, grab this up; it's a worthy addition to the long line of Wacken-based recordings.

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