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TRCH Classic Thriller Season

Live Music Review: Exodus x Death Angel at Rescue Rooms

13 March 20 words: Alex Mace
photos: Alex Mace

As darkness falls upon the streets of Nottingham, the rain soon follows. Many seek refuge in the comfort of their homes following yet another gruelling Monday, but us metalheads have different plans...

Death Angel

As the city winds down for a night with its feet up, we don our patch vests and prepare our neck muscles for a night with two of the most revered names in metal’s long and messy history; Exodus and Death Angel. 

It was enough to hear that two titans of the California Bay Area thrash scene would be blazing a trail through Nottingham, but the fact that they chose to unleash hell in the chaotic confines of Rescue Rooms’ 450-capacity dance floor is another; shows like this are few and far between. Judging by the turnout, however, I think Nottingham got the message. Fans soon pour into the main hall and assume positions, sporting the usual dress code of all black with a bit of red if you’re feeling adventurous, and floor space quickly becomes as rare as a hand without a beer. Soon pick meets strings and Death Angel are upon us, bearing down on the crowd with a vehement display of ferocity in opener Humanicide that whips the floor into a moshing frenzy. 

Death Angel may be a smaller name within the 80’s thrash metal legacy but tonight's performance doesn’t make that abundantly clear, the dexterity and vigour of the band visibly timeless as they leap from debut singles like Mistress of Pain and Voracious Souls through to the 2010’s revival era of Aggressor and The Dream Calls For Blood. To the ears, they are a rapturous treat, to the eyes, a wonder. Rob Cavestany’s guitar slinging remains a visual performance in its own right as he delicately destroys the necks of many unsuspecting guitars, frontman Mark Osegueda takes the trophy for most badass poses in one night, whilst bassist Damien Sisson will go down as one of the happiest faces in metal. 

In a brisk but relentless 45-minute setlist, Death Angel keep a tenacious grip on fans throughout, only pausing to show their gratitude for “supporting real Bay Area thrash metal”, much to the joy of Osegueda as he thrusts a bottle of Bombay Sapphire to the skies. They may have technically been a support slot but Death Angel headlined the show with just as much authority as Exodus; I’d like to thank them for not going easy on us. 

There is little lull between the audible wrath from our two guests but Exodus takes a refreshingly comedic approach, blasting a jovial blend of the Benny Hill theme with Slayer’s Angel of Death; a welcome physical respite for our aching bodies. Moments later the musical jape’s purpose becomes clear as we welcome the return of legendary guitarist Gary Holt, an original Exodus member who joined Slayer in 2011, who, along with his mutinous mates, tear into Body Harvest with little introduction. 

 

Exodus

What follows is a performance expected from a band of 41-years prestige, a stately reminder of a group that produced some of the genre’s most influential records, and an encouraging look at five musicians that are yet to sing their valedictory song. While Holt and lead guitarist Lee Altus share solos with impressive fluidity on fan favourites Blacklist and Bonded by Blood, talismanic frontman Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza leads the charge with vocals that have retained that signature rasp of Lord of the Rings’ Gollum with a throat infection; in the metal world that’s actually a compliment.  

But you could hear all this on Spotify, Exodus makes sure us metalheads get our money's worth. Zetro is a joy to watch as he stares in juvenile disbelief at Holt’s display of shreddelicious musicianship, mouth agape and arms dangling while bassist Jack Gibson is a visual spectacle in his own right as he wields a glorious see-through bass with great presence. 

The setlist is almost at an end and the mosh pit is simmering down to a few remaining stragglers as Zetro makes an announcement. He thanks us for “a f**king good time” and promises to get back to the studio for a new album after their current tour - The Bay Strikes Back - sings its swan song. It’s a gift that none of us can comprehend but before it can even be properly registered in our minds, Zetro parts the sea of flesh like Moses (fitting eh?) and demands us to “give it everything you f**king got!” for Strike of the Beast; we do so, the final guitar riffs still echoing through the minds of fans. 

The ruckus is tempered by their silent farewell, and we all stand having just witnessed a fragment of live music history.  

Exodus x Death Angel played Rescue Rooms on Monday 9 March 2020.

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