Slayer Kills at the Fox

Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Exodus

Nov. 11, 2014

Fox Theater, Oakland
How do you spell relief? At Oakland’s Fox Theater on Nov. 11 and 12, it was spelled M – E -T – A – L!

There is no better remedy to rid oneself of the stress and anxiety of everyday life than a good ole thrash metal show. Whether you dive head first into the pit to mosh the night away, or hold your ground outside the swirling torrent – negativity and aggression don’t stand a chance against this kind of intensity, consuming tensions and devouring evils in its fury. Just ask any of the metalheads from these two sold-out shows who witnessed the madness and mayhem unleashed by Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, and Exodus.

Steve “Zetro” Souza is back to the helm of Exodus. Apparently time has healed the wounds since his 2004 departure, judging by their performance and latest collaborative effort, Blood In, Blood Out. This release is a reunion that reestablishes the oldest of the old school thrash metal sound that is the Exodus signature.

From the minute they took the stage with “Black 13,” these guys WERE NOT civilized – more like a pack of Tasmanian Devils, and they were pissed! Zetro engaged the crowd with his sinister-psycho charisma, while guitarists Lee Altus and Gary Holt provoked them further, banging heads, trading licks and leads at the edge of the stage, teasing those in front. Bassist Jack Gibson, frontline defender for the rhythm section, worked intuitively with drummer Tom Hunting and did a solid job of holding the reins to control the chaos of the collective. There was no mercy to be had in “Bonded By Blood”– they couldn’t have cared less if you needed a minute to catch your breath for “Toxic Waltz.” They were on a thrash metal mission to the exhilarating end, which came far too quickly, having only a 30-minute set! Check out these clips about Exodus’s set, the first clip is from Testament’s Chuck Billy and DRI’s Harold Oiman and the second is comments from the crowd…

Thrash metal brothers from a punker mother, Suicidal Tendencies came to represent for the crossover brand of thrash they helped to pioneer.  The highlight of their performance was singer Mike Muir, who tore up the stage throughout the entire set on a frantic, bombastic vocal rant with guitarists Dean Pleasants and Nico Santora and bassist Michael Morgan, using every inch of open space during the tirade on songs like “War In My Head,” “Freedumb,” and “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow.” New drummer Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta), at 15 became the youngest recipient of a full four-year-scholarship to the Berklee College of Music. Need I say more?

Simply put, Slayer killed it! Slayer knows exactly who they are. Decades ago, they fully committed  and assumed the identity which has earned them five Grammy nominations, winning two for “Best Metal Performance.” One has to wonder if Slayer considers their live show when writing their music. As fast and furious as it is, the structure and accents seem strategically placed within their compositions  and act as brief sonic cushions that give separation to the individual parts. Even in live situations, all the parts can be heard within the mayhem.

Their “devil-incarnate, war machine” persona was written large as they kicked off their set with “World Painted Blood,” with reversed crosses hovering ominously on the background screen. Singer/bassist Tom Araya is without doubt a commanding and formidable performer – whatever comes out of his mouth, few listeners would dare argue with. The guitar duo of Kerry King and Gary Holt (second band/set that night) has melded into a very tight unit since Holt (guitarist/songwriter for Exodus) began filling in for  Jeff Hanneman in 2011; he agreed to continue after Hanneman’s death in 2013 . King is a pitbull on guitar, both in presence and style. Holt is a different breed, but together they are menacing, trading leads and playing dual rhythms on such  fan favorites as “Chemical Warfare,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Disciple,” and “Snuff.” Drummer Paul Bostaff was back on the throne, having previously played with Slayer from 1992 to 2011. Paul is a bad ass, one of the genre’s most notable. Despite their recent member changes, Slayer is stronger than I have ever seen them, an affirmation of the reasons why they hold a seat at the top of the thrash heap.

Exodus set list: Black 13 | Blood In Blood Out | Blacklist | Bonded By Blood | Toxic Waltz | Strike Of The Beast

Slayer set list: World Painted Blood | Postmortem | Hate Worldwide | Die By the Sword | Chemical Warfare | War Ensemble | Mandatory Suicide | Necrophiliac | Spill the Blood |Hell Awaits | At Dawn They Sleep | Altar of Sacrifice | Jesus Saves | Disciple | Seasons in the Abyss | Snuff | Dead Skin Mask | Raining Blood | Psychopathy Red | South of Heaven | Angel of Death


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