King Diamond performing at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA on November 16, 12015
Should there be only one takeaway allowed to be reported on regarding the King Diamond and Exodus show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA this past Monday it should be the fact that despite the horrific and just plain senseless events that recently transpired in Paris, metal heads proved that they will not be deterred nor denied their right to flash the devil horns, mosh and thrash with one other.
The spirit of this sentiment, although not specifically touched upon by either band, seemed to take other forms in both a ferociously up tempo performance by Exodus and a literally time warp inducing set by the legendary Danish black metal icon, King Diamond.
San Francisco Bay Area thrash outfit Exodus opened up the night’s festivities with a bone crunching set that had the mob head banging mercilessly from the second the first chords ripped from the amps and dispersed into the crowd.
Long time vocalist Steve Souza, who recently came back into the fold to record 2014’s excellent Blood in, Blood Out and to tour with the band, was in fine vocal form. Souza’s upbeat energy and genuine excitement to be on stage with the band again was evident throughout the entirety of Exodus’s performance.
Exodus – Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA 11/16/2015
The audience response for Exodus was beyond enthusiastic as the band tore through a brief but brutal eight song set that featured three tracks of 2014’s Blood In, Blood Out in addition to Exodus classics such as “Strike of the Beast” and “Exodus” off of the band’s 1984 debut LP Bonded by Blood as well as the always crowd pleasing, “Toxic Waltz” from the band’s most mainstream successful LP, 1989’s “Fabulous Disaster”.
Although long time lead guitar player Gary Holt is absent from this year’s tour cycle, as Holt is currently over in Europe manning axe duties for west coast thrash brothers Slayer, Exodus delivered a blistering opening salvo that was more than welcomed with open arms by the throngs of metal heads in attendance as they awaited King Diamond to descend from the rafters or ascend from the bowels of the Tabernacle.
The lack of explosive moshing on the night, especially throughout Exodus’s opening set, induced a moment of pause. It made me stop and think for a second that the mean age of these two bands’ audiences may have reached the point where crashing into one another violently may present more of a danger to making it to work the next day than it’s worth.
I guess some things change and some things stay the same. In this instance what definitely remained from days gone by was both bands giving the crowd their sonic best and audience members taking that energy and throwing it right back up to the stage.
Shortly after 9:00 PM the instrumental intro to King Diamond’s 1988 LP Them, “Out from the Asylum” began to play over the Tabernacle’s PA as individual band members slowly but deliberately sauntered onto the stage. Finally Kim Bendix Petersen, a.k.a. King Diamond, appeared from the shadows in near simultaneous unison with the rotting grandma character from Them as she was being wheeled into the fray.
Seasoned fans of the band immediately knew what was to come as King Diamond began singing in his trademark falsetto the first few lyrics of “Welcome Home” while he devilishly crept up to wheelchair bound decrepit grandmother to launch into his first evil serenade of the evening.
King Diamond performing “Welcome Home” – Tabernacle- Atlanta, GA – 11/16/15
King Diamond, whose been recognized the world over for his vocally crazy highs and bludgeoning lows for going on three plus decades now, also brings other tools to his particular brand of dark metal. These mechanisms include the band’s insanely ominous theatrical antics as well as the sublime musicianship that’s become a guaranteed aspect of any live King Diamond performance.
Speaking of which, the level of musicianship within King Diamond is beyond superlative. Whether you enjoy the band’s particular flavor of dark metal or metal music at all, no one could possibly deny the players in the band, which include Andy LaRoque (guitar), Mike Wead (guitar), Pontus Egberg (bass) and Matt Thompson (drums), are some of the most talented at their crafts above ground or beneath the remains.
The band’s technical acumen was on full display throughout the performance with each member proving that they are but a handful of musicians within the metal world worthy as well as capable of sharing the stage with King Diamond.
The band’s show at the Tabernacle this past Monday proved these constants to still be intact as the first act of the evening’s performance saw the band brilliantly tackle King Diamond classics such as “Sleepless Nights” and Halloween” as well as the back-to-back and crowd pleasing Mercyful Fate covers, “Evil” and “Melissa”.
The remainder of the evening’s show was dedicated to a performance of King Diamond’s celebrated 1987 sophomore release Abigail in it’s entirety. For those not familiar with King Diamond’s music, each of the band’s records are conceptual in nature regularly touching on themes such as the after world, magic, the occult and bizarre family dysfunction. Abigail is wrought with these very leitmotifs throughout proving it to be the perfect set piece to dissect and present musically to the masses in this format.
After 90 minutes of sheer dark metal bliss guitarists Andy LaRoque and Mike Wead began to strum the notes to “The Black Horseman,” the acoustic swan song to Abigail, signaling to most that an exhilarating night of thrash and black metal bliss would soon come to close.
Contrary to popular belief the reports of metal’s demise seem to be have been greatly exaggerated. Considering the age of most band and audience members, as well as the the fact that it was a Monday evening, one may have expected the venue to be half full with a slew of mostly nostalgia seeking fans attempting to see two of their beloved metal acts play live one last time.
This past Monday I found myself instead within the belly of a near capacity venue, surrounded by over 2,000 of my metal brothers and sisters in arms, most seeming more than grateful for the opportunity to have shared a unique metal experience with one another.
As the band made their way from the stage and the house lights brightened I personally felt an overwhelming sense of pride as well as fortune to have bore witness to a such a resplendent show of metal force by two of the genres most well respected icons and proud torch bearers.
Exodus and King Diamond both more than proved on the evening that neither are anywhere near close to their career ends and I assure you that this fact alone is more than music to the ears to the entire world of metal.
Finally to the cowards across the globe who have the audacity and coldness in their hearts to commit heinous acts against our rock and metal brethren, I have a feeling King Diamond is watching and taking notes. You’ve been warned.
All photos and writing by Robert Forte:
Instagram: 40_Photography / Twitter: @bruins7140 / Facebook: Bob Forte (Robert)
The crowd – King Diamond and Exodus – Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA – 11/16/15