Sunday Old School: Exodus
Band Photo: Exodus (?)
This past October Sunday Old School looked at British doom metal band, Electric Wizard. In the introduction, I stated that some bands are essential to a genres fan base, the first example being California thrashers, Exodus. So this week we’re going to examine the band in greater detail and see just how important to the thrash metal scene Exodus really are. The band was formed in Richmond, California by guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello in 1981, along with drummer Tom Hunting, vocalist Keith Stewart and bassist Carlton Melson, who was soon replaced by Jeff Andrews, with Agnello leaving shortly afterwards to become a minister, leaving the second guitarist spot to be filled by guitar tech, Gary Holt. More departures would soon follow, with the band deciding to replace Stewart with their eccentric friend, Paul Baloff and Jeff Andrews departing after the band recorded their first demo to form an early version of Possessed and most notably, founding member Hammett leaving to join Metallica, who were just about to record their debut album, "Kill ‘em All" in New York. With Hammett now replaced by Rick Hunolt, the band began recording their debut album, "Bonded By Blood," which despite taking over a year to release due to business issues, proved to be well worth the wait, as it has since been hailed as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback Exodus received for "Bonded By Blood," they decided to fire Baloff as he was too much for them to handle and replaced him with Legacy frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza. This lineup of the band proved to be stable to some degree, and they released their second album, "Pleasures Of The Flesh" in 1987 which entered the Billboard charts at number 82, a position which was matched by the third Exodus album, "Fabulous Disaster." This album featured the song, "Toxic Waltz" which received regular rotation on the MTV show, Headbanger’s Ball, ultimately proving to be one of the most popular Exodus songs. Tom Hunting left the band after the release of "Fabulous Disaster" but they took a big step by signing with major label, Capitol Records, who housed fellow Californian thrashers, Megadeth at the time. The resulting fourth album, "Impact Is Imminent" received very negative feedback and after a live album, "Good Friendly Violent Fun" and another album, "Force Of Habit" in 1992, which saw the band experiment with their sound, they decided to call it a day, reuniting with Baloff briefly in 1997 for a live album entitled, "Another Lesson In Violence" before breaking up again.
Like many other thrash metal veterans, they reformed once again in 2001 to take part in the Thrash Of The Titans benefit show for Testament frontman Chuck Billy. Their performance was very well received and they decided to make the reunion permanent, quickly putting together plans for a new album. Their plans suffered a devastating and tragic blow in April 2002 however, when Baloff suffered a stroke and passed away, leaving the band to once again hire Zetro to handle vocal duties. This new Zetro lineup only lasted one album however, which was released in 2004 under the title, "Tempo Of The Damned" before the band fired Zetro for an incident regarding a fan. They instead decided to continue with roadie Rob Dukes taking Zetros place and Heathen guitarist Lee Altus replacing Rick Hunolt.
This new incarnation of the band recorded the album, "Shovel Headed Kill Machine," which, as well as having one of the most metal titles of all time, was critically praised and saw the band once again touring worldwide, particularly in Europe. Hunting returned to the band in 2007 and they released another album the same year entitled., "The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A" which led them to embark on a co-headlining tour of North America with German thrash legends Kreator, before making the controversial decision to re-record "Bonded By Blood" under the title, "Let There be Blood," in an attempt to show fans who hadn’t seen the band live yet how well Dukes could handle the old material, in addition to celebrating the records legacy. Their most recent output came last year when they finally released the follow up to "Exhibit A," "Exhibit B: The Human Condition." They continue to tour all over the globe, putting in regular appearances at famous European festivals such as Graspop and Wacken and continuing to build on a legacy of outstanding thrash metal.
Exodus - "Bonded By Blood"
Exodus - "Toxic Waltz"
Exodus - "Brain Dead"
Exodus - "Downfall"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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