Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
Although there are a couple of other Exodus DVD’s, in my mind this is really the first official high quality, Exodus DVD. The other two (LIVE AT THE DNA, 2005) and DOUBLE LIVE DYNAMO, 2007) were independent jobs. Nuclear Blast has presented the world the first really good look at Exodus on film. The awkward title of SHOVEL HEADED TOUR MACHINE AND OTHER ASSORTED ATROCITIES –LIVE AT WACKEN doesn’t really roll off the tongue but it is a really cool package that comes in several formats. I’m fortunate to own the deluxe version, the three-disc set which was released in 2010. It is a three-panel fold-out deluxe digipak but no booklet for some reason! There is a DVD of their July 30th performance at Wacken in 2008. Disc Two is the CD audio of the hour-long Wacken show. Disc Three is the real treat of the set containing a two-hour documentary called ‘Assorted Atrocities’ and another hour of bonus stuff. Running over 5 hours long, the whole set is a good value.
The first DVD is a multi-camera shoot shot in broad daylight on the monstrous ‘True Metal Stage’. Its a good gig, bit short and the band is on fire but to me Exodus have just never been an arena rock band. They seem lost on the stage. Sure it is cool to play to 80,000 people in broad daylight on a sunny afternoon in Germany, but I feel their true intensity would shine through more from a sweaty club gig somewhere. Dukes USA flag shorts are hilarious. The set-list is very contemporary with 7 of the 11 songs from the last three albums and the last four from BONDED BY BLOOD, which of course had just been re-recorded with Dukes on vo-kills, so it has a very current feel. It is good to see the band not shy away from some of their longer more ambitious songs like ‘Children Of A Worthless God’, ‘Funeral Hymn’ and ‘Deathamphetamine’ all running over 8 minutes long.
In terms of the live CD, this is technically Exodus’ fourth live album. The first live album was a recording of a scrappy little gig in San Francisco in 1989 called GOOD FRIENDLY VIOLENT FUN. The next was a scrappy little gig in San Francisco 1997 called ANOTHER LESSON IN VIOLENCE. Next was a scrappy little gig in San Francisco in 2004 called LIVE AT THE DNA…. I see a trend here… Unfortunately this is the only Exodus album to date that has not been released as a stand-alone CD. To my ears it is the best sounding of the lot and heavily features Rob Dukes era material, which is cool that they are not just living in the past. The disc sounds great!
Disc Three is the main reason in my opinion to get this set. ‘Assorted Atrocities’ is more of a ‘tour diary’ movie than an official documentary with a narrator, but it is still cool. The footage collected from the past five years or so (again, the Dukes era) is pretty cool. With the invention of the easy to use, easy to hold, digital hand-held camera, (and virtually infinite storage capacity) you can get a relatively decent amount of footage and edit it into something reasonable for the fans. Accordingly, these tour diary style DVD’s are becoming more common and even a marketing tool as many bands draw back the curtain and post minute by minute studio reports etc. Well, just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Assorted Atrocities, while entertaining lacks cohesion. It starts more like a conventional documentary with some old clips and photos and stories, but the main thrust (perhaps as it should be) turns to the Dukes touring era. What we end up with is a long running batch of drunken back-stage shenanigans and people mugging for the camera. I like seeing rock stars give the finger to the camera as much as the next guy, but after a while it wears then, even for the most ardent Exodus fan. There is footage from all over the world, which is cool. Of course there are lots of tourist-type shots, crazy fans, drunken stories retold while sitting around on the bus late at night, and the amusing ‘Non-Metal moments. These are a few clips of the band in…well…non-metal moments, combing their hair and so on. It’s all a bit of a blur but it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours. Another highlight for me was seeing them do the voice-overs for Metalocalypse because I’m a big fan of the show.
The bonus stuff is pretty cool, an old interview from1985 (they look so young!), a huge photo gallery, deleted scenes (what’s the point?) and three promo videos as well. It’s odd that they didn’t play any of the video ‘singles’ ‘Riot Act’, ‘Problems’ or ‘Now Thy Death Day Come’ during the Wacken gig. I guess they couldn’t really film videos for the eight minute long songs. The video for ‘Now Thy Death Day Come’ seems more like a Scorpions video, big budget on location the desert with lots of deadly chicks in bikini’s. The video is easy on the eyes but not really in line with the songs lyrics about , ‘…dead bodies amputated…’ and ‘Lucifer makes his ascent…’ but what the hell, the chicks have skimpy costumes and big boobs so it rules. ‘Riot Act’ is directed/created by the Metalocalypse guys so it looks sort of like an episode of that show.
This huge DVD/CD set is an unparalleled glimpse into the ‘Shovel Headed Tour Machine’ and an educational look at the highlights (and low-lights) of the hard-working life of a touring musician. This beast strikes at the heart of any Exodus fan and gives us a lesson in video violence.