Exodus, Obituary, and Power Trip decimated MHOW (pics, review)
Nestled beneath the shadows of soulless condo high-rises and surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, and double parked Maseratis and Porsches, Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg was a festival of ear-splitting heviosity last night (9/19) as it played host to an unbelievable triple bill featuring Bay area thrash metal icons Exodus, death metal behemoths Obituary, and thrash metal wunderkinds Power Trip. Billed as the Battle of the Bays tour, the bill was supposed to also include Bavarian thrashers Dust Bolt, but they didn’t end up making it.
Openers Power Trip are the greatest living contemporary thrash metal band in existence. Period. Their first full-length release Manifest Decimation is a crucial and at this point legendary shot in the arm that the genre so desperately needed. They play the breakneck style of heavy thrash I grew up with without sounding like a derivative caricature. And last night at MHOW they were spotless. As players they were tighter than ever and, perhaps this comes down to MHOW’s newish analog soundboard, the fidelity of the music was astounding. Their sound was blazing, but each instrument was totally articulate. New crushers like “Executioner’s Axe,” “Nightmare Logic,” “Soul Sacrifice,” and “Crucifixation” sounded right at home with classics like “Conditioned By Death,” “Heretic’s Fork,” and “Manifest Decimation”. With a spectrum of motifs referencing everything from classic 80s bay area thrash to hardcore, Power Trip had the crowd in an amped-up frenzy from start to finish. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give particular props to drummer Chris Ulsh. Having been the guitarist/vocalist for Mammoth Grinder from 2008 to 2013 (and now fronts Impalers), he absolutely shines behind the kit with Power Trip. He attacks the drums with an energy and ferocity of someone like Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat) and is for my money the one in the driver’s seat when it comes what actually drives Power Trip’s intensity. And when it comes to tasteful fills and cymbal work he’s a rare breed of perfection.
After a generous intermission, Florida death metal greats Obituary took the stage and unleashed one of the finest performances of theirs I have seen in years. Again, perhaps this is due to MHOWs soundsystem, but Obituary has not sounded this heavy and this clear in years. Obituary’s current line-up features longtime members Donald Tardy, John Tardy, and the always frightening Trevor Peres with Terry Butler (Death, Massacre) on bass, and Kenny Andrews (Azrael, Pain Principle) on guitar, and the five of them tore through a setlist that saw classics standing tall next to new ones. Obituary’s repertoire can go from sludgy, swampy, slow-burning beasts like “Turned Inside Out,” “Don’t Care,” and the last one-minute forty-seconds of “Dying” to fast, uptempo fare such as “Find the Arise,” “Slowly We Rot,” “Sentence Day,” and the first two-minutes fifty-seconds of “Dying.” And that’s what makes their shows so compelling. One minute you’re swept into a circle pit where your feet don’t touch the ground. The next minute you’re stood still just banging your bald head (me) up and down while staring at the floor. What’s also compelling is their consistency. They are one of the few bands in the game where you can solidly state how well their new stuff matches up against the old stuff and really, truly mean it. I have seen Obituary many many times over the past few decades, but I have to say I don’t think they ever sounded as good as they did last night. A lot of that has to do with the room, but a lot of that also has to do with the fact that Obituary were in-the-pocket from the second they hit the stage.
In high school (1991 – 1995) and even a few years before that, I loved Exodus. They did thrash right, they had a Kirk Hammett connection, and their merch and album artwork was utterly spotless. But they broke up in 1994 and by the time they had a brief reunion in 1997 (and a subsequent break up, and a reformation in 2001) I had moved on to other things. I even sort of fell away from the classics I loved so much. So last night’s Exodus show was a long awaited reunion for me. Though their line-up has changed several times over the years, and though I haven’t really listened to them in a few decades (time flies), I stuck around last night with open ears and an open heart to say Hello to and get reacquainted with a band I once loved with a serious fervor. The band absolutely slayed with a setlist that was pretty evenly split between vintage early era classics and post 2001 reunion fare. The newer stuff was all Greek to me but still sounded excellent and true to vintage Exodus form. The classics, however, sounded amazing. 1980s slammers “And Then There Were None,” “Deranged,” “A Lesson In Violence,” “Bonded by Blood,” “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast” brought me back to my mullet-headed glory days of tape collecting, running out of batteries for my ghetto blaster, and ordering metal shirts from the backs of magazines. They were great, and though they’re hardly the band they were almost 40 years ago, they were a fun yang to Obituary’s yin, if you will.
Pictures are in the gallery above. Setlists below.
POWER TRIP : MHOW : 9-19-17
Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)
Conditioned to Death
OBITUARY : MHOW : 9-19-17
Visions in My Head
Chopped in Half / Turned Inside Out
A Lesson in Vengeance
Turned to Stone
Find the Arise
Straight to Hell
Slowly We Rot
EXODUS : MHOW : 9-19-17
The Ballad of Leonard and Charles
Blood In, Blood Out
And Then There Were None
A Lesson in Violence
War Is My Shepherd
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast