14 November 2005
Camden Underworld, London
It`s an old but endless debate. When a band loses members, when is it no longer the band whose name it carries? Even the people that turned up to see them would be under no illusion that Axl Rose alone does not constitute Guns ‘n` Roses, despite possessing the name. Megadeth, however, is Dave Mustaine and has continued with few questioning the band`s validity.
Gary Holt, through a combination of illness, death and apathy, has found himself as the sole survivor of Exodus` classic line-ups. Holt makes it clear tonight that he "doesn`t give a fuck, this band on stage is Exodus!".
Holt also makes it clear that he will never work with former vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza again and also takes a pop at former guitarist Rick Hunolt. Of all the line-up changes the loss of Hunolt is probably the most difficult to come to terms with whilst watching the band. Exodus H-team guitar duo was one of the most revered in thrash. To his credit Lee Altus is certainly up for a challenge which apparently he`s waited 20 years for. The spontaneous chant of Heathen solidifies what this crowd knows him for, rather than perhaps as the guitarist in Exodus yet.
Vocalist Rob Dukes is the polar opposite of Souza`s "fun" stage persona. Dukes, whose head is a wild mass of hair, looks like he`s about to kill someone. Particularly any divers spilling onto the stage, which is a bit at odds with the band portrayed in the Toxic Waltz video. Dukes` delivery is much more aggressive and when he indulges in a sustained bout of relentless headbanging it`s a wonder he doesn`t keel over. Where before the H-team was the centre of attention on stage, it`s now Dukes. Pretty impressive given his limited experience in the frontman role.
Holt describes Paul Bostaph as his "winning lottery ticket". The speed and metronomic ability of Bostaph certainly suits Exodus and particularly given the aggressive nature of the band`s latest output.
It is that latest record that the band leans heavily on tonight. Nine of its ten songs are aired, taking up over half the set. Perhaps this isn`t surprising given that`s the only album this line up has delivered. Then again, if they`re leaving the past behind and pushing forward as a new band why not with a new name. Despite trying not to, this constant dilemma kept rearing up in my mind. My conclusion was indecisive. I was watching an undoubtedly great band, but a very different one to the one I remember as Exodus.
It`s clear that the old Exodus will remain in the past. The current Exodus is a much more aggressive beast and one that when considered on it`s own merits is an exciting line-up. However, consigning Exodus` past to the past whilst coming to terms with the present and future may take some of us fans a little time to adjust to.
Exodus set list:
Bonded By Blood / Raze / Deathamphetamine / Karma's Message / Black List / A Lesson in Violence / Altered Boy / Now Thy Death Day Come / Shudder to Think / Scar Spangled Banner / Pirahna / I Am Abomination / 44 Magnum Opus / Shovel Headed Kill Machine / Fabulous Disaster / War is My Shepherd / Strike of the Beast