Exodus – British Disaster: The Battle of ’89 (Live At The Astoria)

What have I been playing the last few weeks? Thanks for asking! I’m digging through the entire discography of Bay Area thrashers Exodus. The reason? The promo of the new (old) live album I received from Nuclear Blast Records. The great performance on that has spurred my enthusiasm for the band – although never really gone away – to new heights.

And when the first reports of this live release came, I wasn’t actually quite that enthusiastic. A recording from a time when the live recordings of thrash bands sometimes lacked power, dug up from some archive with the label’s warning that it is “raw” material. Well, it is certainly raw (or rather rough and rowdy) but this says more about the performance itself than about the quality of the recordings. Of course a microphone or wire crackles here and there. But what did you expect from a sweaty club performance in 1989? When you press the play button, after the spoken intro about moral questions surrounding the concept or system of prisons, you immediately notice the guitar sound injected with steroids while the kick drums also thunder heavily. At the same time, things have not been smoothed out and we can almost hear the sweat dripping off the walls.

By the way, those walls are that of The Astoria in London (but you at least partly got that from the title) and the recordings are from a concert Exodus played there on March 8 1989, shortly after the release of the fabulous third album Fabulous Disaster. Hey, didn’t we already have a live album from the US leg of that tour? Certainly: Good Friendly Violent Fun was recorded in San Francisco on July 14 1989. But that album contained eight songs that kept us busy for less than 45 minutes. Contrary to British Disaster: The Battle of ’89 (Live At The Astoria), no fewer than fifteen songs are performed here in a period of 45 minutes! Some of those songs, such as Verbal Razors, hardly made it onto the set list after 1990. Whether that is justified, is up to you (Zetro, for example, already faltered a bit on ‘Till Death Do Us Part), but it does mean that the concert does not sound too predictable. Oh, and unlike Good Friendly Violent Fun, there are also quite a few songs from the debut sung by Paul Baloff.

The singer here is of course Steve “Zetro” Souza. Behind the drums, we find co-founder Tom Hunting and the guitar tandem Holt and Hunolt did his impressive thing (listen to those time-space continuum tearing solos in Lesson In Violence!), supported by the four-string work of Rob McKillop. A fairly classic line-up, in great shape and sounding very eager. The label’s promoter kindly pointed out to me that the young musicians played everything much faster that evening than on the record and he doesn’t seem to be lying about that. Knowing the band’s history a little, it cannot be ruled out that some of that energy came from a certain substance but that of course does not detract from the listening pleasure in any way.

Listening pleasure and energy are further increased by the encouraging and sometimes funny announcements made alternately by Zetro and Gary (“on MTVaaayyyy!!!”) and the combative and sometimes barely timed background vocals. Brilliant songs such as the biting but swinging Fabulous Disaster, our dance The Toxic Waltz, the brutal class A Lesson In Violence and And Then There Were None (that melody catches you every time!) all rush by. However, we kick off with the less well-known – at least than the aforementioned songs – Last Act Of Defiance and it immediately becomes clear what kind of evening it will be. Speed, determination and energy in abundance, capped off with Gary Holt shouting: We are Exodus, We’re gonna fucking crush you! I could not have said it any better.

This is simply a treat for the nostalgic thrasher and the new fans of the genre who are too young to have consciously experienced the heyday of thrash. “Party like it’s 1989!” at least here at the Hoogkamer residence and highly recommended, this British Disaster: The Battle of ’89 (Live At The Astoria)! I replay it again and then just continue with Bonded By Blood, Pleasures Of The Flesh and so on.


Nuclear Blast Records, 2024


  1. The Last Act Of Defiance
  2. Fabulous Disaster
  3. ‘Til Death Do Us Part
  4. Corruption
  5. The Toxic Waltz
  6. A Lesson In Violence
  7. Chemi Kill
  8. Piranha
  9. Like Father, Like Son
  10. Deliver Us To Evil
  11. Parasite
  12. And Then There Were None
  13. Verbal Razors
  14. Brain Dead
  15. Strike Of The Beast


  • Steve Souza – Vocals
  • Gary Holt – Guitar
  • Rick Hunolt – Guitar
  • Rob McKillop – Bass guitar
  • Tom Hunting – Drums