"The Battle Of ’89 still rages 35 years on." Exodus' new live album gives us a rowdy glimpse into the golden age of thrash

New Exodus live album British Disaster: The Battle Of '89 offers no surprises but plenty of thrashing good fun

Exodus on stage in the 80s
(Image: © Getty Images (Ebet Roberts/Redferns))

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The year is 1989. Look Who’s Talking is one of the highest-grossing films, and New Kids On The Block are never off the fucking radio. Still, it’s not all bad. The thrash metal movement is in its rudest health, its momentum yet to be stalled by the new trends of the 1990s. This was the era when everyone from Metallica to Megadeth and Slayer to Sacred Reich were still rising stars, the reaches for their potential seemingly stratospheric.

Amidst it all, Exodus not only released their now-classic third album, Fabulous Disaster, they scored a major MTV hit with The Toxic Waltz, and then kept their winning streak going by touring all over Europe and the States. British Disaster: The Battle Of ’89 captures the sound of the Richmond, Californians’ anarchic ascent, recorded at London’s The Astoria on March 8 that year. In marketing materials, guitarist Gary Holt promises that this recording is as raw as can be and completely untouched, and it’s easy to believe him. Exodus stay characteristically savage throughout their 15-song set, Gary’s hellfire riffs and Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza’s Bon-Scott-on-speed snarls exploding from the amplifiers.

The aggressors’ onslaught is far more than mindless noise, though. A Lesson In Violence reaffirms itself as Gary’s crowning achievement, its latter half dedicated to the band founder’s disciplined yet ferocious soloing. Elsewhere, And Then There Were None marches to a more tasteful groove, drummer Tom Hunting slowing down alongside hulking chords, whereas the melodic sensibility of the aforementioned The Toxic Waltz demonstrates how it became a mainstay.

It’s unlikely that anyone who isn’t already invested in Exodus will be won over here. However, with the band now almost four decades removed from their debut, diehards can get a glimpse of them at their hungriest and, dare it be said, loudest. The Battle Of ’89 still rages 35 years on.

British Disaster: The Battle Of '89 is out this Friday, May 31

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.