The Bay Area’s own Slaughter By The Water is back for it’s third year, this time taking over the unsinkable (and allegedly haunted) U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier as the venue which is moored in what used to be the Alameda Navel Air Station. But they organizers didn’t stop there … the festival not only occupied a substantial indoor portion of the ship, but spilled out onto the pier where a second, pedal-powered, stage was erected to entertain the early arrivals and metal heads that didn’t have the cash for the main event. Watching the terrified faces of the tourists as they exited the ship and cautiously shuffled around the mosh pit was reason enough to show up early. Throw another seven or so bands and you’ve got yourself a party.

Around 5pm the gangway was opened to the festival goers and the crowd gradually started to shift to the main event as Zombie Holocaust ripped up the pier stage. Those expecting to be rock out on the deck of the aircraft carrier were probably disappointed, but the cavernous interior made for an imposing setting for metal and dwarfed the stage which was set amongst navy fighters.

Unfortunately for the late night second-stage bands, the audience for the pier stage largely cleared out when the main stage heated up. With 9 bands lined up for the paying crowd, between-set DJ’ing by Transistors Rising, and a bar overlooking the fleet there was plenty to keep the fans occupied. Despite a few glitches (ghosts?), the show went forward smoothly with some healthy “audience participation” throughout the evening. Highlights from the evening included Impaled, Autopsy (who proved old dudes can rock), and Philm (featuring the legendary Dave Lombardo on drums) which brought a break from the heavy with a set of prog metal that seemed to have the audience mesmerized, if not awed, by the drum work.

After a long day, finally Exodus took the stage for a bit of a homecoming. If there was any doubt why most of the attendees were there, it was erased the second frontman Rob Dukes set foot on stage. What was already an active crowd went absolutely bonkers. Despite a brief intermission for some technical difficulties (ghosts?), Exodus did what they did came do … if it were a lesser vessel, we all would have been swimming for shore.

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