|L to R: Gibson, Hunting, Holt, Altus, Dukes, Small
by Cosmo Lee
Shovel Headed Tour Machine (Nuclear Blast, 2010), Exodus‘ new DVD package, comes out tomorrow. It includes a DVD and CD of the band’s 2008 set at Wacken, and a second DVD containing a documentary, music videos, and other bonus material. Last Friday the documentary premiered at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Afterwards, the band fielded questions from the audience. Brendon Small of Dethklok/Metalocalypse emceed the event.
My first impression was how small the venue was. If Slayer had done a DVD premiere with a live Q&A;, the line would have been around the block. Instead, this event was intimate. Substance abuse and band instability are probably why Exodus aren’t in the “Big Four” of thrash.
Their current lineup is clean, though. It’s taken me a while to embrace it. I generally dislike bands who only have one or two original members left (hello, Sepultura). Usually they are just brands whose need for existence is financial, not artistic. But I’m listening to 2007’s The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A right now, and I stand by my original review. Guitarist Gary Holt still has the fire. New vocalist Rob Dukes is no Paul Baloff or Steve “Zetro” Souza, but he is competent enough. The spirit of Exodus is still alive.
This documentary is about Exodus’ current lineup. Thus, guitarist Rick Hunolt, despite his integral role in the “H-Team” alongside Holt, is merely a footnote. His split with Exodus was well-publicized, so it’s understandable that the band wants to move on. But it’s strange that the film devotes less time to him than to Kirk Hammett, who was in Exodus but never recorded an album with them.
As metal DVD’s go, this one is typical. Its organization is haphazard, its Spiderman font is distracting, and much of the humor only the band would find funny. But it’s good at showing the band members’ personalities. Exodus aren’t media darlings, so until this film, I didn’t know much about the members. I liked what I learned. Generally individual personalities don’t factor into my estimation of a band. But here they reinforce why I still like Exodus after all these years: they are humble and devoted to their craft.
The Q&A; afterwards bore this out. Some good tidbits emerged. One fan revealed that in the ’80s, he and his friends stole cars to go to Exodus shows at Ruthie’s Inn. Drummer Tom Hunting, who lives in the wilderness of northern California, disclosed that he owns no computer. (Only recently did he get an email address.) To heat his home, he chops wood for fire; occasionally used drumsticks serve as kindling. Dukes, the consummate frontman, wore a big red zoot suit. The event closed with a raffle that gave away autographed schwag, including a beautiful ESP guitar, to several lucky fans. This was a night for fans only, in the best sense.