Live Review: Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies at The Tabernacle Nov. 22

Featuring photography by Michael Bradley (http://www.rockhousephoto.com)

Opening for Slayer sounds like a daunting task, no doubt, but beloved acts Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies showed little sign of intimidation when they stormed the stage of The Tabernacle in Atlanta. Though it’s a rare occurrence when a tour’s opening acts are as established and adored as the headliners, both groups put on headline-worthy performances of their own.

Exodus, Live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.

The evening began with a thrilling performance from Bay Area icons Exodus, whose initial appearance on the fog-laden stage drove the crowd to begin the night’s first floor-wide circle pit. Launching into “Black 13” from the new release Blood In, Blood Out, Exodus used every moment of its half-hour set to illustrate that thrash metal is alive and well. “Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast” were set highlights during the brief performance, and Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza still has one of the best voices in metal.

Guitarist Gary Holt in particular deserves accolade, as he performed twice in the evening – once with Exodus, and later with Slayer. The virtuoso’s energy never dropped throughout his combined two hours of stage time, and his passion flowed through his solos as he smiled and sang with fans.

Punk-metal crossover act Suicidal Tendencies performed next, meshing infectiously catchy bass lines with chugging riffs. Not unlike Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies is one of the rare groups whose music has steadily improved with time. Though the band’s last effort, 13, was released nearly two years ago, Suicidal Tendencies has remained in the limelight thanks to its consistent touring habits and consistently growing fan base.

Suicidal Tendencies, Live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.

Opening with “You Can’t Bring Me Down” from LightsCameraRevolution, Suicidal Tendencies’ set was a whirr of fists and bodies, as the crowd jumped and sang along. But where Exodus and Slayer focused more on aggression, Suicidal Tendencies created an atmosphere of fun and positivity, with Mike ‘Cyco Mike’ Muir offering the microphone to the crowd on several occasions before ultimately moving to the guardrail to join his fans. The set consisted of an eclectic mix of Tendencies tunes, including fan-favorites “Subliminal,” “Possessed to Skate” and “Freedumb” ensuring that every era of the band’s lengthy 30-year career was accounted for.

After witnessing their respective performances, it’s abundantly clear why Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies are regarded as two of the hardest-working and enduring mainstays in metal. Where many similar acts have teetered out over the decades, it’s rare to see a band maintain a sense of relevancy. Yet like their tour mates Slayer, Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies have stood the test of time due to their tremendous output, and thankfully, there seems to be no end in sight.

 

Full Gallery of Exodus

 

Full Gallery of Suicidal Tendencies

Live Review: Slayer at The Tabernacle Nov. 22

Featuring photography by Michael Bradley (http://www.rockhousephoto.com)

To say it’s been a rough few years for Slayer would be putting it mildly. The classic thrash metal act saw its first setback when longtime guitarist Jeff Hanneman procured a rare disease that left him unable to play, ultimately resulting in his unfortunate passing (a Heinekin-esque backdrop appeared in tribute to Hanneman during show-closer “Angel of Death”). Political issues then plagued the group as drummer Dave Lombardo had a falling out with the band, resulting in a series of ugly accusations on various social media outlets. Yet through the turmoil the group trudged on, with the return on Divine Intervention-era drummer Paul Bostaph and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt bringing some much needed attitude to the band. Perhaps it was precisely because of these setbacks that Slayer’s show at The Tabernacle Saturday, Nov. 22 was such a triumphant performance, fueling the band to perform with more rage and vitality than they’ve shown in years.

Slayer, Live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.

Pentagrams and similar iconography danced around a massive curtain as the opening notes of “World Painted Blood” teased the audience with the imminent arrival of the thrash legends. The entire performance was nothing short of ferocious from the moment the aforementioned curtain dropped, and it’s clear Slayer hasn’t forgotten its roots. Much of the performance stemmed from the band’s earlier albums, including the return of Hell Awaits tune “Necrophiliac” and Show No Mercy classic “Die by the Sword.”

The show featured what was perhaps Slayer’s most well-balanced set list in years, excellently combining the classics of the older albums with the more contemporary World Painted Blood and God Hates Us All tracks. Slayer managed to keep the show moving at a consistent break-neck pace and weaved tracks in a natural and effective progression, resulting in an equilibrium that many similar acts struggle to find.

While Kerry King walked around stage headbanging with fans, vocalist and bassist Tom Araya was noticeably bored and frustrated throughout the set. In Araya’s defense, the source of his anger was most likely a projectile beer that pelted the vocalist early on in the performance. Yet for the remainder of the show it felt as if Araya genuinely didn’t want to be there, as the frontman rolled his eyes during “Snuff” and said virtually nothing to the audience aside from thanking them twice. “Thanks for the drink, but I don’t typically drink and play,” he quipped afterwards. Perhaps it was simply an off day, but several audience members noticed the lack of excitement.

Slayer, Live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.

Even with the perceived boredom, the band sounded better than they have in years. Holt’s performance in particular was excellent, as he seemingly never missed a note, and Bostaph’s kick drum during “Disciple” could be felt throughout the venue. Veterans King and Araya also played admirably, with Araya’s goosebump-inducing screams during “Angel of Death” and “War Ensemble” sounding better than they have in years.

The performance quelled any potential concern about the band’s future, and while it’s rare to see a band achieve such a sense of consistency over the years, it’s clear why Slayer has maintained an overwhelming popularity. The excellent set list mixed with the band’s unforgiving voracity is truly something to behold, and hearing several Hell Awaits tracks alone is worth the cost of admission. Whether fans were only familiar with “Raining Blood” or knew every incendiary lyric to the group’s deep cuts, Slayer’s performance at The Tabernacle gave any and every fan an excellent opportunity to witness a group of legends at the top of their game.

 

Full Gallery of Slayer