Slayer, Rob Zombie, Exodus – Hell On Earth Tour Review
Thanks to a fantastic birthday present from my brother, I was fortunate to catch the opening night of the Hell on Earth tour. Slayer, Rob Zombie, and Exodus thrashed into Reading, PA on July 20 delivering one of the most intense shows I have attended in recent memory.
I have been a fan of Slayer and Exodus for over twenty years going back to my teenage years, while I can tolerate Rob Zombie. The thought of seeing Slayer and Exodus together is what drew me to the tour, where ironically it would be Zombie who would steal the show.
The metal tour kicked off in the Sovereign Bank arena located in Reading, PA. I live in Philadelphia and have never traveled up that way to a show. This was my first time at the arena. It is an interesting building. For those of you interested in seeing a show there, here is a brief rundown of the pros and cons of the place.
The biggest pro is it is small, meaning there is not a bad seat in the place. Another big pro is location. It was super easy to get to from Philadelphia and only about an hour and twenty-thirty minutes. The staff was great, getting people inside of the building faster than I have ever experienced. Parking is fantastic and less than $10, with lots all over the place. Plus, if you are there early you can walk a block and hit a variety of restaurants which is pretty rare when it comes to most arenas.
The biggest negative was the sound. I wasn’t a big fan of the acoustics. The vocals sounded off for every band throughout the night. There aren’t many bathrooms which means you are standing in a long line, unless you go to the bathroom during a set. I can’t think of many more negatives, but the sound was definitely an issue. Otherwise, let’s bang some heads!
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Exodus kicked off the show promptly at 7 PM/EST. I have been a huge Exodus fan for decades so I was really stoked to see them. I really like the new heavier sound of the band since picking up Rob Dukes, so this was a case where I didn’t mind more new songs over old. In 30 minutes they did a great job of mixing it up with both.
The band was even heavier live than on record which sounds almost impossible. They kicked off the set with The Ballad of Leonard and Charles. A great way to kick off the show! The crowd was starting to pile in as the band played, which saw a full pit on the floor break out by the end of the set. They blitzed through the set pretty fast. The band threw in some classics like Bonded by Blood and Toxic Waltz. The band closed with Strike of the Beast which was an unexpected surprise.
Thirty minutes is just not nearly enough time for such a fast playing band. Exodus left me wanting more which I plan to get if they come back around on a club/headlining tour. Rob Dukes is a fantastic front man. Dukes mentioned during the set that it was a dream come true for him to open for Slayer and Zombie and it sure seemed like it with the intensity he showed for thirty minutes.
The Exodus set list courtesy of Setlist.FM
– The Ballad of Leonard and Charles
– War Is My Shepherd
– Bonded By Blood
– The Toxic Waltz
– Strike Of The Beast
Rob Zombie was up next. I was really surprised. I expected Zombie to headline. I was there for Slayer but I just presumed with his bigger commercial success that he’d be the headliner. I only saw him play once and that was about 18 years ago when White Zombie opened up for Testament at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. They were fantastic, but I wasn’t expecting a whole lot on this night. Needless to say he blew me away.
I also don’t know a lot of Zombie’s stuff past the Hellbelly Deluxe album. I know the songs that pop up on hard rock and heavy metal radio shows and the such, but I am certainly not familiar with is deep catalog. Lucky for me, it didn’t matter.
Zombie opened up with Jesus Frankenstein and then launched into Superbeast, which is a song most of us have heard at least once. Great song and he came out with a ton of energy. He had a lot of fans there as I would say that the ratio of Zombie and Slayer t-shirts was about 50/50. His fans were great and feeding off of their metal master for the entire hour plus. His stage show was about as elaborate as you’ll see outside of a big arena. He had everything from a video featuring clips of topless women and horror clips playing, to monster, to robots, to cranes, to confetti.
He honestly blew me away. His set was a lot heavier than I expected and all of the songs were familiar to even novice Zombie fans like me. He just never stopped (no pun intended) and hit harder and harder with every song in his set building up for a huge encore featuring Dragula. He ended the night dropping loads of confetti to the dismay of those poor Reading workers at the close of Dragula.
It was actually a déjà vu moment for me. I was working at a record store when La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 came out. I remember putting it on in the store and thinking that the vocals sounded like a big Metallica rip off. I was pretty bummed when I heard that they were opening for Testament, as were the thousand or so ignorant metal heads who booed them when they took the stage. 45 minutes and we were all jumping up and down and cheering these guys for a tremendous show. That is a true story and one I’ll never forget.
I’d say the highlight of this set was probably Thunderkiss ’65. It was never my favorite Zombie song, but I remember them closing with that at the Testament show and really turning it up a notch live. Not much has changed. This was just as great as it was the first time I saw it. At one point, Rob even went into the various sections of the crowd with a spotlight. I was watching the guitar solo and all of the sudden everyone around me turns to their left. There he is, a few feet away from me. It reminded me of seeing AC/DC in 1992 when Angus Young mysteriously appeared in the middle of the audience for a solo during Jailbreak.
Anyway, Zombie played a little over an hour and I can’t stress enough how great this was. He was heavy, intense, fast, and just a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’d ever see him again, but I’d highly recommend catching him on this or another tour if haven’t seen him live ever or in awhile.
Rob Zombie’s set list according to Setlist.FM and memory