Extensive lineup changes have caused some metal bands to fall apart creatively, while others have a way of bouncing back; it's safe to say that Exodus falls into the second category. The Bay Area thrash veterans have had their share of lineup changes over the years, but thankfully, Exodus have demonstrated that even when they stumble, one should never count them out. And Exodus are in very good form on this three-disc set, which consists of DVD and CD versions of their 2008 appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, as well as a documentary DVD. Exodus' lead singer on Shovel Headed Tour Machine: Live at Wacken and Other Assorted Atrocities is Rob Dukes, who joined in 2005 and has been a welcome addition to the long-running band. Dukes handles himself admirably well at Wacken; he is a loud, angry, snarling firebrand of a singer, but for all his punk-minded anger and venom, Dukes is also easy to understand. Dukes doesn't render the lyrics indecipherable, which can sometimes be a problem in thrash metal (although not nearly as much of a problem as it is in death metal, black metal, and metalcore). And he never fails to sound inspired on the Wacken performances, which fall short of definitive but are focused and exciting nonetheless. Shovel Headed Tour Machine: Live at Wacken and Other Assorted Atrocities isn't for casual listeners, and it is unlikely to win over anyone who has been on the fence about this Bay Area band. But Exodus' long-time followers will be glad to know that they can still generate excitement after all these years in the mosh pit.
Shovel Headed Tour Machine: Live at Wacken and Other Assorted Atrocities Review
by Alex Henderson