Exodus: Shovel Headed Tour Machine

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Exodus: Shovel Headed Tour Machine
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Exodus: Shovel Headed Tour Machine
Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
January 12th, 2010
Release length: n/a
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It’s starting to seem like Exodus has really been pushing for sales outside of their more recent audio releases, having already released two previous live DVDs before this one. Shovel Headed Tour Machine: Live At Wacken And Other Assorted Atrocities is actually not a bad DVD release, but many may say that this release is more of a means to milk money off the band’s already established and quickly thinning fan base. The first of the three aforementioned DVDs was a self-released effort in honor of the release of Tempo Of The Damned, and the second featuring two live concerts from the band’s past. This, however, is the band’s proper DVD release with the band’s currect line-up, and a bunch of extra’s including a documentary, some music videos, and more.

Right from the start, when you see the track listing you’ll notice that there has not been a seperate audio release of this DVD like many labels seem to do. This is actually nice, even though it winds up jacking the cost for the consumer who just wanted one or the other, not both, making a huge turn off to some of the newer fans, or the devout fans that dropped off from recent recordings after the abomination of Let There Be Blood. However, if you’re daring enough and haven’t boycotted all the band’s releases, the concert on here is actually something very impressive and shows that Exodus is far from a dead act with the new vocalist. The band’s stage presence can be felt even through your television, and Rob Duke’s ability to command the crowd is pretty good as well, though could still use some work. This is where one would expect to ever hear re-recorded versions of classic Exodus material by the late and great Paul Baloff. It’s also the only place you would expect to hear a really backwoods banjo-based country version of the band’s classic “Bonded By Blood” which plays at the end of the concert.

The quality of the concert is phenomenal, clearly utilizing high definition camera’s for the optimum visual quality. The audio is clearly run through the sound board, which just adds to the intensity of the set, and very fitting as running a raw recording of a concert of this magnitude at such a respected festival would just be downright insulting for fans. The only gripes of the video come down to the post-production aspects. There are plenty of moments on the DVD where you’ll be asking yourself what they were doing when it came to the final product. There’s plenty of shots of the crowd and the circle pits, as well as the bands, but what is with the pulling away during guitar solos to show a circle pit, the vocalist just walking around or staring menacingly at the crowd, or even of the wrong guitarist? Another problem would be the transitions used. But the most aggrivating moment of all is during “Blacklist” when Rob starts playing the guitar during the solo as Lee Altus holds down the frets and has a beer. It’s enough to make you scream death threats at the top of your throat because they simply will not focus on this. They either show it briefly, go to the crowd, or show the back of Gary doing his part for the solo.

Much of the video actually follows a pattern if you pay close enough attention. Perhaps the most annoying is the insanely drawn out fade out/fade in transitions utilized, as it’s always either a very mundane or very impressive shot that is slowly being faded out to a crowd shot. So while you watch a solo, you see a circle pit with the previous visual continuing for upwards of ten seconds, and then maybe one or two solid seconds of that circle pit or whatever following shot. The only times you’ll see this effect work properly is during the track “Children of a Worthless God where they show the crowd from the stage’s perspective, then slowly fade out to see how immense the crowd is, practically a sea of people, as well as during the bridge/solo of “Deathamphetamine” when Rob points the spotlight to Gary Holt, then has the crowd chant “fuck” with him throughout that solo. The crowd response to the show is pretty strong, but as you go through you can tell that Rob is not quite that impressed, and nobody can really blame him. It’s obvious the crowd is into the show, there’s no denying that, but no matter what it seems that there is only one group of people who form a circle pit in the same spot, and you can tell there are a lot of people inside and outside of it that do not want to be bothered by it or the people involved either. It’s also funny to stare at the crowd and see nothing but caucasians, and given Rob’s appearance on stage in contrast to the rest of the act, it’s almost hilarious because one would think you were at some sort of KKK or pro-white rally in Washington or something along those lines.

According to the artwork, the documentary, “Assorted Atrocities”, is supposed to only span the last 5 years, but it actually starts off with the birth of the band and gives a little bit of insight about how it all started. It also features some random photos from the band member’s past, as well as some very short raw footage, and some other comical moments such as the “non-metal moment” of band members doing their hair backstage. When you reach that specific moment, it goes straight into the making of “Shovel Headed Kill Machine“, which isn’t a seperate entry like you would have believed from the description. From there, it becomes rather typical, but it becomes rather funny when they talk about their touring in Thailand. By the time you hit the section Exodus and Hatebreed, you’ll start to realize the documentary aspect is over and for a little while it’s nothing but overanalyzing random moments that even the most die hard fan could care less about just to try to fill some time, more insanely short raw footage, as well as useless clips and more “non-metal moments” with few moments that are actually really interesting. The documentation of the band recording for the animated series Metalocalypse. After this, the rest starts to get interesting. There’s some really entertaining aspects when it stops being about the band’s history, and starts to be about the band as a whole now, and their fans. THe most interesting, aside the crazy guy from South America at the very end doing a cappella metal guitarsw, and the show atmosphere there, but also of the show at the Pearl Room and the raw footage from the Croc Rock in Allentown, PA incorporating a young girl playing along with Exodus on stage with a violin.

As far as the bonus material of the DVD goes, it’s just your decent, run of the mill material. The only really interesting bits here would be the music videos for “They Death Day Come”, the seizure inducing “Riot Act” and a homemade video for “Problems” composed of footage from the recording studio. Aside that, you have the various bonus live clips from songs that go deeper into the Exodus library then what was presented in the band’s live performance at Wacken on the first DVD, and are for those of you who don’t like the polished high quality live recordings. There’s enough footage here to put together an entire second concert, even though the sets and qualities are different obviously. The “Vintage Interview” here is great look into the history of Exodus too since it’s from when the band’s debut full length Bonded By Blood hit, and it’s just a great look at how the band was back in the day compared to their views today. Outside that, the rest is just filler material, really.

Honestly, Shovel Headed Tour Machine will, at first, come across as a huge rip off when you happen upon it on store shelves. Many people who can’t stand the new vocalist will shrug it off since Rob is in it, and many newer fans may just pass by it due to how much it costs. It may not seem like you get much according to the back of the packaging, but Shovel Headed Tour Machine is the definitive Exodus live release to have audio and video, and perfectly compliments the band’s first two live audio releases. No matter how you look at Exodus now, this release is one you need to see, and it’ll answer many questions you have in your head about the band’s progress, some of their more recent decisions, and probably cause you to gain back some (probably not all) respect back for the band if you too were taken aback by Let There Be Blood.


DVD 1:
01. Bonded By Blood – n/a
02. Iconoclasm – n/a
03. Funeral Hymn – n/a
04. A Lesson in Violence – n/a
05. Children of a Worthless God – n/a
06. Piranha – n/a
07. Deathamphetamine – n/a
08. Blacklist – n/a
09. War is My Shepherd – n/a
11. Strike of the Beast – n/a
11. Shovel Headed Kill Machine – n/a

DVD 2
01. Assorted Atrocities (Documentary) – 1:45:18
02. Deleted Scenes – n/a
03. Now Thy Death Day Come (Music Video) – 4:29
04. Riot Act (Music Video) – 3:38
05. Problems (Music Video) – 4:22
06. Toxic Waltz (Live Video Clip) – 5:28
07. No Love (Live Video Clip) – 6:01
08. Brain Dead (Live Video Clip) – 4:46
09. I Am Abomination (Live Video Clip) – 3:21
10. Fabulous Disaster (Live Video Clip) – 5:14
11. Seeds of Hate (Live Video Clip) – n/a
12. Scar Spangled Banner (Live Video Clip) – 6:52
13. Raze (Live Video Clip) – 4:10
14. Altered Boy (Live Video Clip) – 7:39
15. Guitar War (Live Video Clip) – 4:55
16. Vintage Interview – Toronto, Canada 1985 – 4:15
17. Trailers – 2:32
18. Photo Gallery – n/a

Audio CD:
01. Bonded By Blood – 3:41
02. Iconoclasm – 7:54
03. Funeral Hymn – 8:46
04. A Lesson in Violence – 3:48
05. Children of a Worthless God – 7:22
06. Piranha – 3:47
07. Deathamphetamine – 8:03
08. Blacklist – 6:24
09. War is My Shepherd – 4:42
10. Strike of the Beast – 5:18
11. Shovel Headed Kill Machine – 3:23

Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Exodus
Exodus

Physical review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.