Exodus / Legendary 1989 Astoria Show Captures Thrash Metal At Its Peak

There are a not inconsiderable number of Thrash fans who might suggest that, in terms of genuine Thrash Metal bands, Bay Area legends Exodus should be at the top of the tree. Certainly, their debut album, Bonded By Blood, is rightly regarded in the top few Thrash Metal albums of all time. For me, it’s arguably the best debut album that any Thrash band has released.

Exodus

British Disaster: The Battle Of ’89 (Live at the Astoria) – Nuclear Blast

Release Date: 31 May 2024

Words: Paul Hutchings

By 1989, Exodus were in their prime. The release of their third album, Fabulous Disaster, was cited as a return to the aggression that they had brought on the debut, which was slightly muted on Pleasures Of The Flesh. If you have ever seen Murder In The Front Row, then you will know how visceral the early Exodus shows could be. 

Although Exodus had played in the UK in 1988, 1989 was the first time they had really given the UK audience that aural kicking. Together with Nuclear Assault and the UK’s premier Thrash band Acid Reign, they had played a month-long European tour before Acid Reign and Exodus hit the UK for a run of shows.

I recall seeing them at Bristol’s Bierkeller a mere four nights before this recording, and it still sticks in the memory as one of the most powerful shows I had ever seen. 

But it was the show on 8 March 1989 at The Astoria that became the thing of legend and even folklore amongst UK Thrashers. It’s one of those gigs that everyone claims to have been at.

Unearthed after 35 years in the Exodus vaults, it’s one of the most astonishing recordings of a band at their absolute explosive best.

Guitarist Gary Holt describes it in his own inimitable style. “Sometimes something truly awesome drops right in your lap. In the case of Exodus, it was full multitrack tape reels from our headlining show in London while on tour for Fabulous Disaster! So, we thought, let’s listen and see what we have and BAM! We were on FIRE!

“Pure over-the-top thrash, one hundred per cent live, and as dangerous as ever! We are fucking stoked to be able to release this for our fans. Total mayhem!”

He is not wrong. From the opening spoken word intro that leads into The Last Act Of Defiance, through the brutal and blistering delivery of Piranha, the viciously savage Chemi-kill, and the chilling Like Father Like Son, this is Exodus on absolute fire from start to finish. 

At times, you find yourself holding your breath at the pace and sheer energy that the band bring. It’s evidently reciprocated in the crowd, for the audience is a raging maelstrom of chaos that embraces everything that Exodus throws at them. And that is a huge amount, for Exodus are razor sharp here. 

The dual guitars of Holt and Rick Hunolt, the watertight engine room of Tom Hunting and Rob McKillop and, of course, the snarling delivery of Paul ‘Zetro’ Souza are all wrapped up here in one ferociously snarling package. There are very few duff moments. Even the Toxic Waltz sounds intimidating. 

Between songs, you can hear the energy that is surging like wild electric bursts as Zetro and other band members talk to the crowd. It’s almost uncontained, and one can only recall from other gigs how much carnage there was in those rudimentary mosh pits back then.

There are some massive highlights here. The seven-minute plus Deliver Us To Evil is immense, a true demonstration of how to bring superbly paced Thrash Metal and one of five songs to feature from Bonded By Blood.

Add into the mix And Then There Were None and the brutal trio of Verbal Razors, Brain Dead and Strike Of The Beast, which concludes one of the most legendary shows in UK Metal history, and you have a release that is an essential addition to any self-respecting Thrash fan’s collection.

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