Jack London Square
March 6, 2022
Photos by Raymond Ahner
It had been quite a while since Exodus had a homecoming show in Oakland, so a Sunday afternoon show in a stage set up down the street from the Oakland Metro was a one-of-a-kind performance for many reasons. The band came on stage as the afternoon sun was setting to rip through the new song “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” from their latest album, 2021 Persona Non Grata. Anchored by some chunky guitar playing from Gary Holt and Lee Altus, the song just ripped through the sound system at warp speed.
Next up was a classic song from the first Exodus album, the pummeling “Pirana,” which featured plenty of wild guitar riffs along with some downright nasty vocals from Steve “Zetro” Souza to complement the bludgeoning aspect of the music.
Exodus is a band that has honed down their sound into an overpowering maelstrom of thrash metal intensity. This was on full display during the rampaging “Deathamphetamine,” which was driven by some propulsive bass from Jack Gibson and plenty of heavy guitar from Holt and Altus.
A few songs later, the band pulled out the classic deep cut “No Love”, which began with a delicate clean neoclassical guitar intro before getting slashed open by a lumbering distorted guitar riff. Souza promised that there would be special guests for the show, and the first one to come out on stage was Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn to rip through the Bonded By Blood classic “A Lesson in Violence”. Flynn did a great job of pumping up the crowd throughout the song as a large circle pit opened up in the middle of the audience.
After Flynn left the stage, drummer Tom Hunting took to the mic to thank all of the fans for their support during his recent cancer battle. The teary-eyed Hunting was met with the overwhelming sound of the crowd cheering for him as he talked about how great it felt to be back on stage and how the most recent Exodus album was put together during the COVID-19 pandemic before returning to the drum chair to play through “The Years of Death and Dying.”
Former Exodus guitarist Rick Hunolt (part of the H-team with Gary Holt) came on stage for the last four songs, which included a rare performance of the grooving “Only Death Decides.” Hunolt took to the mic to pay tribute to original Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, describing him as “the heart and soul of the Bay Area metal scene” back in the 1980s. Hunolt and the rest of Exodus closed out the evening with a fiery version of “Strike of the Beast,” which featured the crowd separating in half and then charging the other half at full speed, which is known as a wall of death.
Few bands can continue to perform inspiring live shows after 4+ decades, but Exodus is not your ordinary band. If Sunday’s performance was any indication, they have plenty of good years ahead of them.
Supporting Exodus for this show was Exhumed, the long time running gore-metal band from San Jose. Led by long-time Bay Area metal stalwarts Matt Harvey (guitar/vocals) and Ross Sewage (bass) the band played an almost hour long set, highlighted by “Defenders of the Grave,” “Limb From Limb,” and “Deadest of the Dead.”
Opening the show was the newly reunited Boneless Ones, who were the perfect choice to get the crowd through the gate and up towards the stage.
Here’s more photos of all three bands by Raymond Ahner:
The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves) | Piranha | Brain Dead | Body Harvest | Clickbait | Deathamphetamine | Blacklist | No Love | Children of a Worthless God | A Lesson in Violence (with Robb Flynn) | Only Death Decides (with Rick Hunolt) || Encore| || Bonded by Blood (with Rick Hunolt) | Toxic Waltz (with Rick Hunolt) | Strike of the Beast (with Rick Hunolt)