Live Review: Exodus and King Diamond at The Tabernacle Nov. 16

Photos by Michael Bradley (full photo gallery at the bottom of the page)

Paranoia was high following the Paris attacks and everyone in line to see Exodus and King Diamond was submitted to a frisk and a metal detector. The line wrapped around the block and inched forward as men and women separated into individual lines and emptied their pockets.

The line looked imposing outside, but once past security, the crowd was more modest inside the Tabernacle. Monday night is not exactly prime time for concert attendance and the audience inside was scattered and patchy. The upper-most tier was closed completely. It was an older crowd, not many kids. But this isn’t Sam Smith or Hozier. These are older bands, bands that only the old heads and rabid metal fans would sacrifice a well-rested Tuesday morning at work to come see. The fans that know a show worth seeing.

Exodus

“Where are the old motherfuckers at?” yelled Exodus’ lead singer, Steve Souza. “The ones that have been with Exodus for 30 fucking years?”

By now the audience had filled in nicely and every long hair and gray beard was pumping their fist and shouting in reply. It’s an odd thing to see one of your favorite bands aging, when you notice the gray hair and paunches emerging. And it’s humbling when you start to realize that these guys are older than you and taking 10-hour bus trips city to city each night and still playing their hearts out while you moan about rolling out of your comfy bed to go to the office.

With 30 plus years of experience, there’s no doubt that the band could be on autopilot and still deliver a good show. But Exodus still attacked the stage like it was trying to incite a riot. Souza is in his 50s and is as charismatic as ever. He owns the stage. Souza was demanding of the fans, singling out anyone that didn’t have his or her hands up. A quick twirl of his fingers during “Body Harvest” and a whirlpool of a circle pit sprang to life. He head banged and played air guitar to his own songs. He still feels it.

Exodus

The acoustics were uncharacteristically muddy for the Tabernacle. The low end came across reedy and the vocals are all but lost in the reverb. It’s unfortunate, but the band was able to power through and keep the energy high. Exodus aimed to please with its set, digging deep with Hammett-era cuts like “Impaler” and closing out with older favorites like “Fabulous Disaster” and “Strike of the Beast” rather than forcing too many newer tracks into the mix.

“East to west, east to west. You know how to do it, Atlanta,” said Souza, calling another mosh into being for the finale. Everyone standing safely along the edges of the pit immediately threw up their phones and pointed them into the eye of the storm. It was an energetic, if short set. Exodus packed it in after just under an hour, but the audience wouldn’t have care if they went on for another hour.

It was time to assemble the King Diamond set. Scaffolding on wheels made to resemble a small-scale foyer of a mansion was uncovered and assembled. The amount of production value squeezed out of the set was impressive. Slotted sleeves were placed over the railings to invoke gothic bannisters; electric candles, Styrofoam ravens and latex gargoyles adorned every corner of the stage. Water bottles were not stowed in the corner by the drum set, instead water was poured into plastic wine glasses and set on a serving tray. It felt like Vincent Price might materialize from the smoke machine induce fog at any minute.

This is billed as the “Abigail” tour, with the eponymous album played lived in its entirety. However, “Abigail” clocks in at a mere 40 minutes, so as not to short change his fans, King Diamond front-loaded his set with about 50 minutes of greatest hits. Opening with “Welcome Home” (complete with grandma in her wheel chair), Diamond hit all of the highlights like “Halloween,” “Eye of the Witch” and even dipped into the Mercyful Fate catalogue.

King Diamond has always been as much theater as concert with his performances and once the “Abigail” portion of the show rolled around, Diamond’s cloaked henchmen rolled out a white child’s coffin from which Diamond produced an evil baby doll he proceeded to stab through the head with a big shiny knife. The band played seamlessly through the album as Diamond and a creepy consort acted out Abigail’s tale of infidelity, spousal abuse, possession, rebirth and infanticide.

Whether it was different sound guy or the sheer power of King Diamond’s falsetto, the headliner didn’t fall prey to the same audio problems the befell Exodus. But the sound issues did little to dampen the evening. Getting to see two metal legends on the same bill is a rare treat and both bands brought their A-game. For all the old school metal fans, this is a must see show.

Photo Gallery: Exodus at The Tabernacle in Atlanta 11/16/15

Concert Review: The 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

The 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival arrived in town on Wednesday, July 29, boasting metal veterans Slayer and King Diamond as headliners. Now in its eighth year of existence, the festival-style tour promotes a package of established metal veterans (Slipknot, Korn, Rob Zombie have all acted as past headliners) along with a slew of up-and-coming hard rock & heavy metal acts. The overall size of this year’s tour was scaled down considerably from previous years. Gone were the larger second stage (previously sponsored by Coldcock Whiskey/Jagermeister) and the Metal Mulisha motorcycle performances, but the core purpose of hard rock and heavy metal was most definitely present and accounted for.

Due to the fact that I was photographing the show and was being moved and sequestered to and from a variety of areas, I didn’t get to see the full set from a lot of the bands. So, instead of a proper, full review of the show I hope that this list of highlights (and lowlights) will give a fuller picture as to what exactly went down:

Surprise(s) of the Day: Shattered Sun & Sister Sin. Both bands gave fist-pumping performances that were enhanced by tight musicianship. As for Sister Sin I can only ask: how many kick-ass metal bands have come out of Sweden in the past several years? That country is a hot-bed of talent. Honorable mention: Jungle Rot

Band You Might Have Missed: Burning Fair Verona. Unfortunately, a 1:00 P.M. starting time slot meant a sparse crowd for the unsigned, Florida-based, Coldcock Whiskey contest winners. Regardless, they went for broke and performed like true pros, seemingly having a blast in the process.

Burning Fair Verona

Burning Fair Verona

Musician(s) Who Made Me Say “Wow” – TIE: Guitarist Daniel Trejo of Shattered Sun, and drummer Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah. I’m not sure what it was about Daniel Trejo’s playing that caught my ear, but in a day full of fantastic guitar playing he seemed to stand out from the crowd. As for Vinnie Paul, his double-bass drumming hits you like a locomotive & I think he’s one of the best hard rock/metal drummers in the business. Honorable mention: Paul Bostaph of Slayer and Andy LaRocque of King Diamond. 

Shattered Sun

Marcos Leal and Daniel Trejo of Shattered Sun

Best Local Tie-In: Lariyah Hayes’ (from the Atlanta occult metal band Khaotika) performance with Sister Sin. A very nice “welcome back” to the stage after the band’s horrible car accident this past April.

Most Spontaneous Moment: Thy Art Is Murder vocalist CJ McMahon brought the day’s two best. 1) Totally throwing himself into his performance, AND into the crowd for a bit of crowd surfing and 2.) Helping to form a…as he put it…“twerkle” pit for some of the mosh-shy ladies in the crowd who were looking to get into the action.

Thy Art Is Murder

CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder

Best Perk: Free Rockstar Energy Drinks! On a muggy, 93 plus degree day, having free drinks to stay hydrated was not only convenient, but downright economical compared to the $4.75 bottles of water at the concession stands.

Bummer of the Day: Unfortunate scheduling. Due to the logistical reality of only running two stages this year, the last two bands on the Victory Records Stage (Kissing Candace & Feed Her To The Sharks) were scheduled between The Devil Wears Prada and Hellyeah on the Main Stage. That meant that fans had to run back and forth across the venue grounds to catch the full show from each band. Unfortunately, many people went to the Main Stage for TDWP and just stayed there for the rest of the evening.

Loser of the Day: The Atlanta metal community. I realize that this year’s scaled-down lineup may have been a little lackluster vs the ticket price. I realize that the show was held on a Wednesday afternoon and many people can’t get off from work. I also realize that it was hot as hell, but the paltry turnout to this year’s tour was a downright embarrassment. This was a metal show, and yet in and around the Main Stage there was an air of calm and stillness. It was quiet like a library. I overheard many people saying things like ”this is so sad,” and “where is everybody?” I guess the only good thing about the turnout is that if the tour returns next year, it will definitely be more well attended, because I don’t think it can get much worse.

Unsung Hero(s) of the Day: The bands. Credit needs to be given to each and every band that performed, because what I saw was 100 percent effort. They did everything they could to get and keep the crowd revved up, involved and entertained. Even this little guy got into the action:

Thy Art Is Murder

Horns up!

Overall Winner of the Day – King Diamond. His theatrical stage show, falsetto vocal range and talented band were a perfect choice for the Main Stage. I’m a late convert to King Diamond’s music, but after his performance I’ve found myself digging back through his catalog to find out what I’ve been missing all of these years. A top notch performance and presentation from a metal legend.

King Diamond

King Diamond

 

Main Stage Gallery

 

Victory Records Stage Gallery