GIG REVIEW: EXODUS & LOST SOCIETY Live At Birmingham Asylum
Since seeing them for the first time in June 2015, Exodus has become perhaps my favourite thrash metal band and without a doubt one of my favourite metal bands to ever be a part of the genre. Since releasing their tenth studio album Blood In Blood Out alongside the return of classic vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza, the band have jumped from strength-to-strength, possibly culminating in this UK tour which spans a total of seventeen dates across the region.
I attended the first date of the tour, at Birmingham’s Asylum venue on February 25. As I arrived there relatively early, I had a chance to get ready for the opening act of the night – Police Bastard. It was my first introduction to both them as a performing group and their music, and it was clear from the beginning that they’re influenced by hardcore punk and crossover acts as they are by the traditional heavy metal bands that we all know and love. The band played for approximately half an hour or so, and gave an impression performance even though the main room was still quite empty at this point and there weren’t enough people in attendance to give the set a good crowd and band coming together as one sort of vibe. The energy of the crowd throughout the set was also quite minimal but that did not have any sort of negative influence on the band’s performance, although the guitarist on my side of the stage did struggle with his guitar strap at one point during the show.
Up next was Lost Society, a Finnish thrash metal band. An unfortunate technical difficulty at the beginning of the set gave me the impression that Lost Society would be fed into the jaws of the venue’s PA system, but within seconds of that mishap the microphone of lead singer Samy Elbanna roared into full throttle power and the band gave the most energetic performance I have ever seen up to this point. If there was a group in metal that came closest to looking like Metallica post-Kill ‘Em All, it would be Lost Society’s live performances. The faces of the people around me were overcome with sheer euphoria as they watched Lost Society perform, and that enough should say volumes about how exciting this band is and that thrash metal in the 21st century has not diminished at the slightest.
The final band to perform on the night was Bay Area thrash legends Exodus, touring off the back of their 2014 release Blood In Blood Out. As has been acknowledged many a time over the last couple of years, the most obvious change in terms of the band’s line-up on stage was the addition of Heathen guitarist Kragen Lum, coming in to substitute for Exodus mainman and all around thrash metal god Gary Holt while he performs elsewhere with Slayer. Having seen Exodus for the first time in 2015, I was anticipating another great performance but was not expecting the band to improve on the astonishing set they put on previously before. Having said that, Exodus were still fantastic. Opening with the first two tracks from their most recent musical offering, the pit exploded into action from the very first moments of “Black 13” and did not stop until the gig closer “Strike of the Beast”. The particular absence of any Dukes-era material was slightly disappointing, as the only track performed from those albums was “Children of a Worthless God”. Plenty of classic material to satisfy the 80s diehards ended up on the setlist such as “Piranha”, “Metal Command”, “A Lesson in Violence”, and of course “The Toxic Waltz”. This material got a break when the band played cuts from more recent records such as new songs “Salt the Wound” and “Body Harvest”, in addition to fan-favourites “Blacklist” and “War is My Shepherd”. A special on stage tribute to the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy was delivered by Zetro, recognising the contributions the great man made to our world and particularly hard rock and metal.
In conclusion, Exodus at the Asylum was an undeniable success. The setlist was chock full of hits purposefully included to satisfy both casual listeners and the band’s die-hard fans, and both opening acts were impressive despite the one-off technical mishaps that took place. The only downside was the lack of Dukes-material which would have been a nice change.